A plea seeking framing of “non- negotiable” child safety conditions and implementation of guidelines to protect school children from sexual abuse and murder today prompted the Supreme Court to seek responses from the Centre and all state governments. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notices and sought the responses within three weeks from the Union Human Resources Ministry and all state governments and union territories on the plea filed by two women lawyers, Abha R Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti.
The top court tagged the plea of the lawyers along with the petition filed by the father of seven-year-old Pradyuman, who was killed allegedly by a bus conductor at Gurgaon’s Ryan International School. The Supreme Court will also hear on Monday the plea of a man, whose 9-year-old son died last month allegedly under mysterious circumstances in a private school in Ghaziabad, seeking a CBI probe in the case. The PIL, filed through lawyer Sujeeta Srivastava, has raised the issue of children “being exploited and subjected to child abuse repeatedly within the boundaries of the schools” and demanded that central and state governments notify a set of “non-negotiable” child safety conditions for schools.
It has sought proper implementation of existing guidelines of authorities including the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on prevention of child abuse in schools. Referring to the guidelines, it said every school is required to have a “child protection policy which should be understood, explained and signed by all employees or recruits”. All new employees must go through a day-long orientation programme on issues relating to child protection within a month of their joining, the plea said referring to the guidelines.
The guidelines say that each school must have child abuse monitoring committee with two students as representatives and a through police verification was needed before employing a person in a school, it said. The PIL also referred to the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy of 2013 and the Model Education Code prepared by National University for Educational Planning and Administration in 2015 and demanded that they be implemented.
The women lawyers also suggested some guidelines, including that there should be “no liquor vendors, hawkers, stalls selling tobacco and other such tobacco based product that is panmasala, cigarettes, gutkas” within a kilometre radius of the schools. If a person employed with the schools was found guilty of any other criminal offence, his or her services should be immediately terminated, it said.
The plea also suggested formulation of guidelines, including maintenance of records of entry and exit of all persons, staff and parents. A female attendant has to be employed outside the washrooms, toilet and changing rooms in all schools for pre-nursery to primary sections, it said. The plea has been filed at a time when the country is grappling with the issue of children’s safety in schools after the death of Class 2 student Pradyuman at the high-profile Ryan International School in Gurgaon. He was found with his throat slit on the morning of September 8 in the school toilet. Police allege that 42-year- old bus conductor Ashok Kumar killed him with a knife after the boy resisted an attempt to sodomise him.