The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government not to force school children to attend the state-sponsored birth centenary functions of ruling AIADMK founder late MG Ramachandran. A division bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and R Subramanian passed the interim order on a PIL by an NGO Change India represented by its director A Narayananan.
The bench directed the State Chief Secretary, School Education Secretary and Director General of Police not take the children to any event organised as part of the birth centenary celebrations of the late chief minister.
Admitting the writ petition seeking framing of draft guidelines for participation of children in public events, the bench issued notice to Special Government Pleader TN Rajagopal representing the said authorities.
Referring to a recent media report, the petitioner said students of several government and private schools in Kanchipuram district were allegedly forced to attend the centenary celebrations of the late AIADMK leader, near here on the instruction of the government.
The article also said many parents and teachers had expressed their displeasure over the misuse of school children by the School Education department, he pointed out.
The party cadre may come to the meeting in a drunken state and hence the safety of the children was of paramount concern, he quoted the parents as having mentioned in the article.
Stating that his representation to officials concerned was met only with indifference by the state government, the petitioner alleged that the children were asked to attend all these political functions held at Thiruvallur, Erode, Vellore, Namakkal and Nagapattinam districts.
Referring to a public meeting which is scheduled to be held at Salem on September 30, the petitioner said there is every likelihood that all those innocent children will be put to a lot of inconvenience by bringing them to the venue in school and government buses to “satisfy the ego and whims and fancies of the rulers.”
The petitioner prayed for a direction to formulate draft guidelines to be adhered to by the school education department, police and school managements whenever on the participation of children in public functions, rallies and campaigns at venues outside schools in consultation and coordination with the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
The state government has announced a six month-long celebration of the birth centenary of the AIADMK founder with Chief Minister K Palaniswami presiding over it.
The events will culminate in a “grand celebration” scheduled in Chennai in January next year, the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) had said.