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Kerala High Court Ruling: Excessive Delay Bars Date of Birth Correction in Service Records

Case title: UNION OF INDIA AND ORS. VS SUNNY JOSEPH

Case no: OP (CAT) No.83 of 2024

Order on: May 23, 2024

Quorum: THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE AMIT RAWAL WITH THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE EASWARAN S.

 

Fact of the case:

In this case, The respondent (applicant before the Central Administrative Tribunal) entered service as an Engineering Assistant on 07.11.1989. At the time of his appointment, the date of birth entered in the service records was 01.06.1964, as per the entries in his SSLC Book. The respondent later claimed his actual date of birth was 02.07.1964. This discovery was made when he obtained a copy of his birth certificate on 10.04.2007. The respondent approached the State Government for correction of the date of birth in the SSLC records, which was accepted on 27.06.2007. The correction in the SSLC Book was completed on 13.01.2012. The respondent submitted a representation to the Director of All India Radio, Vazhuthakadu on 16.07.2013, requesting correction of his date of birth in the service records. The authorities initially entertained the representation but eventually rejected the request by a series of inter-departmental communications, culminating in a rejection by the Deputy Director (Administration), India’s Public Service Broadcaster Directorate General, All India Radio, New Delhi, on 04.02.2015. The respondent’s request for replacing his Aadhar card was also rejected on 09.03.2015 due to the discrepancy in dates of birth. The respondent did not register for the biometric attendance system, leading to further directives and responses. After multiple proceedings, including the invocation of a public grievance mechanism, the respondent approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, which allowed his application on 24.07.2023.

Issues framed by court:

Whether the Tribunal should entertaining the respondent’s belated claim for correction of date of birth in the service records?

Legal provisions:

Section 21 of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s Act, 1985:

This section deals with the limitation period for filing applications before the Tribunal, setting specific timelines within which grievances must be raised.

Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules:

It prescribes the conditions under which corrections to the date of birth in service records can be made, emphasizing a five-year limitation period.

 Contentions of Appellant:

The appellant argued that the respondent’s request for correction of the date of birth was highly belated. The request was made after 23.5 years of service, far exceeding the five-year limitation period prescribed by the relevant rules and the DOPT Office Memorandum No.19017/2/92-Estt(A) dated 19.05.1993. The appellant relied on several Supreme Court judgments, including State of Maharashtra and another v. Gorakhnath Sitaram Kamble & Others [(2010) 14 SCC 423]. and State of M.P. v. Premlal Shrivas [(2011) 9 SCC 664], which established that corrections to the date of birth should not be entertained at the fag end of an employee’s career. The appellant also cited Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules, emphasizing the five-year limit for correction requests. The appellant contended that the Original Application was not maintainable before the Tribunal because the cause of action arose in 2015, and the application was filed only in 2022, thus barred by limitation under Section 21 of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s Act, 1985.

Contentions of Respondents:

The respondent argued that he could not have approached the authorities for correction until the SSLC Book was corrected, which occurred on 13.01.2012. Therefore, his application to the authorities in 2013 was timely. The respondent highlighted the delay between 27.06.2007 (when the State Government sanctioned the correction) and 13.01.2012 (when the SSLC Book was corrected), arguing that this period should be excluded from the calculation of the limitation period. The respondent pointed to his immediate action after obtaining the corrected SSLC Book and argued that he had followed proper procedures in seeking the correction. The respondent emphasized that the change in the date of birth would only alter his retirement by 32 days, causing no significant burden to the department.

 Court analysis:

The court noted the clear statutory restriction under Section 21 of the Central Administrative Tribunal’s Act, 1985, and the regulatory requirement for filing correction requests within five years of entering service. The respondent’s delay in filing the application was beyond the permissible limit. The court emphasized that the prudency of the employer in prescribing the five-year limitation for correction requests is sacrosanct and not subject to judicial review unless there is clinching proof of a genuine error. The court criticized the Tribunal for ignoring the statutory and regulatory limitations and entertaining the belated claim. The Tribunal’s decision was found to be contrary to established principles and precedents. The Kerala High Court set aside the Tribunal’s order dated 24.07.2023 in O.A.No.469/2022. The Original Application filed by the respondent was dismissed as it was not maintainable due to the significant delay and non-compliance with the prescribed timelines. The court concluded that the respondent’s application for correction of the date of birth in the service records was not permissible due to the excessive delay and statutory prohibitions. No order as to costs was made.

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Judgement Reviewed By- Antara Ghosh

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Kerala High Court Rules Maternity Benefit Act Inapplicable to Private Educational Institutions Before March 2020

Case title:  CHAIRMAN, PSM COLLEGE OF DENTAL SCIENCES & RESEARCH VS RESHMA VINOD & ORS

Case no.:   WP(C) NO. 13201 OF 2018

Dated on: 03rd May 2024

Quorum:  Hon’ble. MR Justice DINESH KUMAR SINGH

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioner is a Dental College & Research Centre, an educational institution established with the permission of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. The permission to conduct academic session 2017-2018 was renewed by order dated 3rd February 2017 of the Government of India. the petitioner received a show cause notice dated 11th September 2017 from the second respondent, Inspector under Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (The Asst. Labour Officer), Kunnamkulam alleging non-payment of maternity benefit to the first respondent under the provisions of Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Maternity Act’). The petitioner submitted a detailed reply dated 15.9.2017 to the second respondent. However, the second respondent passed an order dated 20th September 2017 directing the petitioner to pay an amount of Rs.64,393.56 as maternity benefit and medical bonus to the first respondent under the provisions of the Maternity Act. The petitioner filed an appeal under Section 17(3) of the Maternity Act before the third respondent. The Appellate Authority vide the impugned order dated 25.01.2018 had dismissed the appeal. This Writ Petition has been filed impugning the orders passed by the 2nd and 3rd respondents in Exts.P4 and P6.

ISSUES

  • whether the provisions of the Maternity Act would be applicable to the educational institutions which are not shops or establishments falling within the meaning of Kerala Shops & Establishments Act or under any other law?

LEGAL PROVISIONS

Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Maternity Act)

Section 2(a): States that the Act is applicable to every factory, mine, or plantation, and to establishments where persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic, and other performances.

Section 2(b): Extends the applicability of the Act to every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law related to shops and establishments in a State where 10 or more persons are employed. Additionally, it allows a State Government, with the approval of the Central Government and after giving not less than two months’ notice, to declare by notification that the Act shall apply to other establishments or classes of establishments.

Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960: Defines the term “establishment” and its applicability within the State of Kerala.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the provisions of Maternity Act have no universal application. Section 2(a) of the Maternity Act provides that the provisions of the Act would be applicable to every factory, mine or plantation and establishments wherein persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances. Further, Section 2(b) of the Act provides that provisions of the Act are applicable to every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law for the time being in force in relation to shops and establishments in a State where 10 or more persons are employed. The proviso to Section 2(b) provides that a State Government with the approval of the Central Government, after giving not less than two months’ notice of its intention, by notification in the official gazette, declare that all or any of the provisions of the Act shall apply also to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial commercial, agricultural or otherwise. The submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner is an educational institution and it is not a shop or establishment to which the provisions of the Maternity Act are applicable. The learned counsel for the petitioner, therefore, submits that the provisions of Maternity Act are not applicable to the petitioner Institution which is a medical educational institution, the orders impugned are unsustainable in law and liable to be set aside. The learned counsel for the petitioner, in support of his submission has placed reliance on the judgment in the case of Ruth Soren v Managing Committee, East ISSDA and others1. It is therefore submitted that the impugned orders in Ext.P4 and P6 are to be set aside and the Writ Petition is to be allowed.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

The learned counsel for the first respondent submits that Maternity Act is a beneficial legislation and it is an establishment for the purposes of Section 2(1)(b) of the Act. The Government has not exempted the medical educational institution from the purview of the provisions of Kerala Shops & Commercial Establishments Act, 1960 and therefore, the Maternity Act would be applicable to the petitioner institution and the impugned orders are not likely to be interfered with. In support of the submission, the learned counsel for the respondent has placed reliance on the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in Noorul Islam Educational Trust v Asst. Labour Officer.

 COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

The Supreme Court in the case of Ruth Soren (supra) has held that the educational institution will not come within the definition of “establishment”, carrying on any business, trade or profession or any work in connection with, or incidental or ancillary thereto. Under the provisions of Bihar Shops and Establishments Act, 1953 which has parametria provisions to the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act, 1960, an “establishment” for the purposes of the Act would mean that establishment which carries on any business or trade or profession or any work in connection with, or incidental or ancillary thereto. The concept of industry as defined under the Industrial Disputes Act would include any business, trade, undertaking, manufacture or calling of employees and includes any calling service, employment, handicraft or industrial occupation or avocation of workmen. In an educational institution, there is an organized activity between employers and employees to impart education. Such an activity, though may be industry, however, would not be a profession, trade or business for the purpose of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, would not be one falling within the definition of establishment under the Act. “Establishment” as defined under the Act, is not as wide as “industry” as defined under the Industrial Disputes Act. The Supreme Court held that an educational institution is not an establishment under the provisions of Shops and Establishments Act. The Division Bench of this Court in its judgment in Noorul Islam Educational Trust v Asst. Labour Officer and another (supra) has failed to take note of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Ruth Soren (supra). Therefore, I am ignoring the judgment passed by the Division Bench of this Court while deciding the present Writ Petition. The State Government only by notification dated 6th March 2020 issued in exercise of the proviso to sub section 1of section 2(b) of the Maternity Act has extended the provisions of the Maternity Act to private educational institution including unaided school inclusive of teachers in the State of Kerala. Therefore, it can be safely inferred that the State Government did not concede that the provisions of the Maternity Act were applicable to the private educational institution and therefore it issued a notification dated 6th March 2020 as mentioned above to bring the private educational institution as well within the ambit of the provisions of the Maternity Act. Considering the gazette notification and the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Ruth Soren and the provisions of the Maternity Act, it can be said that the provisions of the Maternity Act were not applicable to the private educational institution before 6th March 2020, when the Government issued notification bringing the private educational institution including the school education within the ambit of the provisions of the Maternity Act. The impugned orders are with respect to the period prior to the notification dated 6th March 2020 and therefore, the impugned orders are not sustainable. The Writ Petition is thus allowed. The impugned orders in Exts.P4 and P6 are quashed.

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FROM PRINCIPAL TO PLAINTIFF: DR. REEMA M’s LEGAL ODYSSEY AGAINST SFI

CASE TITLE: DR REMA M VS. THE DIRECTOR OF COLLEGIATE EDUCATION & ORS.

CASE NO.: OP(KAT) NO. 109 OF 2024

DATED ON: 9th April, 2024

CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE A. MUHAMED MUSTAQUE & HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE SHOBA ANNAMMA EAPEN

FACTS:

The case revolves around Dr. Rema M, who was temporarily overseeing a college in Kasargod. Trouble began when students complained about contaminated water. Things escalated when some students, allegedly affiliated with the Students Federation of India (SFI), locked her in her office, preventing her from leaving for several hours. Later, she faced further incidents of detainment and harassment by SFI students, including being prevented from using the restroom. Amidst this, she gave an interview alleging immoral conduct, drug use, and illegal activities among some students. Consequently, the college authorities accused her of tarnishing the institution’s image, leading to a disciplinary inquiry. Dr. Rema defended her actions, stating that she was targeted by SFI members and that her remarks were not directed at the entire student body.

ISSUES FRAMED BY THE COURT:

  1. Whether the actions of the SFI students, including the alleged confinement and harassment of Dr. Rema M, violated her rights or constituted unlawful behaviour.
  2. Whether Dr. Rema M’s statements in the interview regarding the conduct of certain students were justified or constituted defamation of the institution and its students.
  3. Whether the show cause notice issued to Dr. Rema M by the Director of Collegiate Education was legally justified.
  4. Whether there are grounds for disciplinary action against Dr. Rema M based on her conduct and statements.

LEGAL PROVISIONS:

Rule 62 of the Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1960: Publication of documents and communications to the Press in the name of Government servants and public speeches.

Rule 63 of the Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1960: It states that a Government servant shall submit to Govt. a copy or draft of the document which he intends to publish or of the utterance which he intends to deliver.

Article 227 of the Constitution of India: Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT:

Dr. Rema, herein the petitioner, contended that she was subjected to severe harassment and confinement by the students affiliated with SFI while she was temporarily overseeing a college in Kasargod. She asserted that the actions of the SFI students, including locking her in her office and preventing her from using the restroom, constituted a violation of her rights and were unlawful. Further, Dr. Rema states that her statements in the interview regarding the conduct of certain students were justified and aimed at addressing the serious issues taking place within the institution. Moreover, she argued that she was targeted by SFI members who circulated manipulative audio clips to isolate her from the public and that her remarks were not intended to defame the entire student body. Consequently, Dr. Rema defends her actions and statements as a response to the harassment she faced and denies any wrongdoing or intention to tarnish the institution’s image.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENT:

The respondent contends that Dr. Rema M’s statements in the interview regarding the conduct of certain students were defamatory and hence has tarnished the reputation of the institution and its students. Further, they argued that her remarks portrayed the students as antisocial, immoral, and drug users, thereby lowering the dignity and reputation of the institution before the general public. However, the respondent asserts that Dr. Rema’s actions constituted a breach of discipline and warranted disciplinary action. They issued a show cause notice to Dr. Rema, seeking an explanation for her statements as a prelude to disciplinary proceedings. Despite her defense of being targeted by SFI members, the respondent maintains that Dr. Rema’s statements were unjustified and warranted disciplinary action to uphold the institution’s reputation and standards.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT:

Based on the analysis made by the Hon’ble Court, it considered the events involving Dr. Rema M while she was overseeing the college in Kasargod. It acknowledged the difficult situations she faced when students, allegedly affiliated with SFI, locked her in her office and prevented her from leaving, among other harassments. The court recognized that Dr. Rema’s statements in an interview regarding certain students’ conduct were made in response to the harassment she endured. However, it also noted that these statements could be seen as defamatory to the institution and its students. Despite acknowledging the challenging circumstances that the petitioner faced, the court concluded that her remarks possess the potential to damage the college’s reputation. As a result, the court upheld the disciplinary action initiated against Dr. Rema by the college authorities. It emphasized the need for all parties involved to handle such situations with care and sensitivity, ensuring the dignity and reputation of the institution are preserved.

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Judgement Reviewed By- Shramana Sengupta

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Judicial Determination of Compensation for Arbitrary Land Acquisition in the Kottayam Corridor Project: Ensuring Fair Remuneration under LARR Act 2013: Kerala High Court

Judicial Determination of Compensation for Arbitrary Land Acquisition in the Kottayam Corridor Project: Ensuring Fair Remuneration under LARR Act 2013: Kerala High Court

Case title: R. ASOKAN & ORS VS State of Kerala & ORS
Case no.: W.P. (C) NO.26234 of 2023
Dated on: 19th April 2024
Quorum: Justice Hon’ble Mr. Justice Viju Abraham.

FACTS OF THE CASE
The writ petition is filed seeking to declare that the action on the part of the respondents in acquiring the properties of the petitioner for the ‘Kottayam Corridor Project’ without following due process of law and without payment of compensation amount is arbitrary, illegal and violative of the fundamental rights and constitutional rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Articles 14,19,21 and 300A of the constitution of India and for other consequential reliefs. Petitioners are absolute owners in possession and enjoyment of different extents of land in Nattakam and Panachikkadu Village in Kottayam District, as is evident from Exts.P1 to P4. The 1st respondent formulated a project by the name ‘Kottayam Development Corridor’ as part of a larger proposal for the development and expansion of the town. The 1st respondent after realizing that such project would require full co-operation and voluntary surrender by the land owners, called for a meeting on 08.10.2011 and on the basis of the promises and assurances given by the respondents that their demand for conversion of the remaining extent of land after the surrender, would be accepted, the petitioners granted permission for effecting construction in their property and surrendered. By Ext.P5 minutes of the meeting which was attended by the Minister and the other officials wherein it was reiterated that the land owners surrendering the lands will be permitted to convert an equal extent of their remaining lands and that exemption will be granted for effecting changes in the BTR records to enable change in the zoning for carrying out the project. While so, Ext.P6 order was issued by the 1st respondent stating that those land owners who have surrendered their whole extent of land will be allotted with Government land to an extent of 50% of the total surrendered land and such of the land owners who have surrendered a portion of their holdings will be allowed to convert paddy land (excluding wetland) to an extent of 50% of the land which they have surrendered to State Government. Petitioners submit that a conjoint reading of Exts.P5 and P6 would clearly denote that respondent No.1 reneged on its initial promise to the landowners and instead of allowing them to convert an equal extent of the surrendered property for construction, the new order stipulated that the landowners including the petitioners herein would only be allowed to convert 50% of the surrendered land for construction purposes. While contempt of court proceeding was pending, the 1st respondent issued Ext.P8 order holding that change of character of remaining lands of persons who have surrendered portions of their lands for road widening cannot be permitted as the same will be in violation of the provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wet Land Act, 2008.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT
The Petitioners submitted that action on the part of the respondents in taking over possession of their property without taking recourse to acquisition proceedings or following due process of law is arbitrary and violative of the constitutional rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 300A of the Constitution. In the said circumstances, the petitioners have approached this Court. Despite the unilateral modification, petitioners decided not to raise any objection against Ext.P6. Even thereafter, no action was taken from the side of the 1st respondent. And further submitted that a conjoint reading of Exts.P5 and P6 would clearly denote that respondent No.1 reneged on its initial promise to the landowners and instead of allowing them to convert an equal extent of the surrendered property for construction, the new order stipulated that the landowners including the petitioners herein would only be allowed to convert 50% of the surrendered land for construction purposes.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS
The respondent submitted that the petitioners have handed over lands for the Kottayam Corridor Project based on the G.O. (Rt)No.5925/2015/RD dated 13/11/2015, on condition that those who handover land for the Kottayam Corridor Project will be allowed to reclaim paddy land (except wetland) equal to 50% of the extent of land handed over to Government and those who handover their whole extent of land will be given land equal to 50% of the land transferred to Government but as per the G.O.(Rt.)4064/2018/RD dated 04.10.2018, the benefit earlier granted was cancelled and those persons who handed over land for Kottayam Corridor Project will be compensated for the exact extent of land they have actually surrendered at the rate of Market Value which was prevalent at the time of surrendering of their land by fixing land value as per LARR Act, 2013. It is also stated that in the case of the petitioners who have surrendered large extents of their land for the Kottayam Corridor Project, the benefit of G.O.(Rt.)4064/2018/RD dated 04/10/2018 will be made applicable and that those persons who handed over land to Kottayam Corridor Project would be compensated for the exact extent of land they have actually surrendered at the rate of Market Value which was prevalent at the time of surrendering of their land by fixing land value as per LARR Act, 2013 and the same will be done on the basis of negotiation or on payment the value of land at the time of taking possession of the land for the project.

ISSUES
• Whether respondent should initiate proceedings as per the LARR Act 2013 and pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of the said Act?

LEGAL PROVISIONS
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution 1950: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 300(A) of the Indian Constitution 1950: That a person can be deprived of his property only through an Act passed by the Parliament/State Legislature and not by executive order or fiat
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution 1950: Protection of Life and Personal Liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
44th Constitution Amendment Act: The government enacted the 44th Amendment Act in 1978 to reverse some modifications made under the 42 Amendment Act of 1976. It was passed to ensure that everyone has the same right to choose their type of government.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT
The petitioners surrendered their land as early as in 2015 only on an assurance given, as evident from Ext.P5 that they would be permitted to convert equal extent of land that they have surrendered. Thereafter, the Government retracted from their promise and imposed a further condition as per Ext.P6. Even Ext.P6 was modified by the Government by Ext.P8 order wherein they have given away all the promises given to the petitioners and ordered that the land will be acquired as per the provisions of LARR Act, 2013 fixing the land value as on the date of surrender. The right to property was initially a fundamental right guaranteed as per the Constitution of India, by the 44th Constitution Amendment Act, the said right is no longer a fundamental right but it is still a constitutional right and a part of human right. Though democracy governed by the rule of law, the State cannot deprive a citizen without the sanction of law. The facts of the present case reveal that the land was taken over from the petitioners without paying any compensation solely based on the undertaking given to the petitioners regarding certain benefits to be extended to the petitioners as is evident from Ext P5 and P6, the Government has even retracted from the said promises and the present stand taken as per Ext P8 order and as per the counter affidavit is that they will be granted compensation as per LARR Act 2013 at the rate of market value which was prevalent at the time of surrendering of their land.
From 2015 onwards, the land is in possession of the Government and the same has been utilized for the ‘Kottayam Corridor Project’ without even paying any compensation till this date. In the said backdrop, the question to be considered is as to whether the stand taken by the Government that the petitioner will be paid compensation based on the value of the land as on the date of the surrender of the property is legally sustainable or not. Taking into consideration the fact that the property was taken over almost a decade back without giving a single penny towards compensation, the decision now taken to acquire the land fixing the land value as on the date of taking possession will cause serious hardships to the petitioners. I am of the opinion that the same will not be adequate compensation in view of the fact that petitioners will not be able to purchase now even a small extent of land which the petitioners could have purchased had the compensation amount been given at the time of taking possession itself. In other words, Article 300-A only limits the powers of the State that no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law. There is no deprivation without due sanction of law. Deprivation by any other mode is not acquisition or taking possession under Article 300-A. Yet another aspect to be considered is that in the matter of taking over the property of a citizen, the authorities are bound to follow the procedure established by law. When the authorities are given power under the LARR Act 2013 to acquire the land, they are bound to follow the procedures prescribed therein, if not, the taking over of the property becomes arbitrary. On the basis of the same, the award will be passed in accordance with law, at any rate within an outer limit of 3 months from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment and thereafter, the compensation amount/award amount shall be paid to the claimants/petitioners along with all statutory benefits within a further period of one month. Since the property has already been taken over and a road has been formed long back, it is made clear that the proceedings now directed to be initiated by this court as per the provisions of the LARR Act 2013 including issuance of Section 4 notification for the purpose of ascertaining the land value as on the date of the said notification and the passing of the award are intended only for fixing adequate compensation to be paid to the petitioners and therefore it is made clear that the proceedings shall be treated as deemed acquisition proceedings and only steps provided as per the LARR Act 2013 that are required for fixation of adequate compensation alone need be initiated by the respondents. The petitioners will be entitled to pursue the statutory remedies available to them for further enhancement of compensation, if so desired.

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“Kerala High Court Directs Closure of Schools Without Playgrounds and Extra-Curricular Activities”

Case title: Prakash N v. G.W.L.P. (Government Welfare Lower Primary) School & Ors.

Case no.: WP(C) No. 19170 of 2014

Order on: 11th April 2024

Quorum: Justice P.V.Kunhikrishnan

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioners, Prakash N and Rajani R, represented the Parent Teachers Association and the Managing Committee Member of the Government Welfare Lower Primary School, Thevayoor South, Pathanamthitta. They filed a writ petition seeking to restrain respondents 2 and 3 from constructing a water tank in the school ground without obtaining permission from the school authorities or higher authorities. The petitioners provided photographic evidence of ongoing construction activities in the playground of the school.

The court directed the State Government to formulate norms/guidelines within four months regarding the extent of playground necessary in each category of schools and the facilities required in school playgrounds. It also mandated that educational authorities ensure compliance and take stringent action, including closure of schools not adhering to these norms.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANT

The appellants, represented by their advocates, argued for the necessity of obtaining permission for construction within the school compound and emphasized the importance of preserving the playground space for educational and recreational activities.

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS

The respondents, represented by various government bodies and officials, argued against the petition, contesting the need for prior permission for the construction and presenting their justifications for the proposed water tank.

ISSUE

  • Whether construction activities within the school compound require prior permission from educational authorities.
  • The significance of playgrounds in educational institutions and the legal obligations regarding their maintenance.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT

The court emphasized the vital role of playgrounds in schools, highlighting their importance for holistic child development and educational enhancement. It referenced relevant provisions in the Kerala Education Rules (KER) and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, noting the absence of specific guidelines regarding playground size and facilities.

The court cited precedents and affiliation rules of educational boards like CBSE and CISCE, which clearly stipulate requirements for playground size and amenities. It expressed concern over the lack of similar regulations in Kerala’s education laws.

Consequently, the court directed the State Government to formulate norms/guidelines specifying the extent of playgrounds required for different types of schools and the facilities they should contain. It mandated strict enforcement, including potential school closures for non-compliance.

The judgment underscores the importance of playgrounds in educational institutions and calls for regulatory measures to ensure their proper maintenance and availability for students’ physical and recreational activities. It sets a precedent for the government to enact specific guidelines in line with educational standards and best practices.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Chiraag K A

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