A division bench of Madras High Court consisting of Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad has broadened the meaning of scope of right to Education. The court has said that "In this context, we also observe that right to education means, right to health & hygiene, drinking water, fire safety, building safety and transport precautions in the school, as well. It also includes adequate facilities for providing recreation, physical education, conduct of various activities and programmes for the cultural and moral development of children."
The matter came before the court in the form of a PIL filed by a practicing advocate seeking for the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the authorities to direct all the school buses to provide CCTV cameras and GPS as a safety measure for children. He supported his plea with two articles published in Times of India and Mirror Now Digital relating to sexual harassment of minor children in school buses. Before filing this petition he had also sent a representation tothe Director of School Education, Chennai, but nothing happened in furtherance of it.
According to the guidelines related to safety of school children in school issued by the CBSE in the year 2017, it was mandatory under clause 2(g) of Annexure 1 to have CCTV cameras in working conditions with GPS in all school buses. This was done so as to facilitate the parents to track the movement of the bus.However, there was nothing in The Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Regulation and Control of School Buses) Special Rules, 2012 that makes such compulsion.
The court requested Mr.Nagarajan who is standing counsel for the CBSE to check the implementation of CBSE guidelines, 2017. It was found that the guidelines were not being followed. It was also added that as per the new guidelines after the amendment it is compulsory for the schools to take prescription from the Government/ Municipal Authority/ Transport Department regarding health and hygiene, fire safety, drinking water, drinking water, building safety and transport precautions in the school.
The court referred a number of cases and came to the conclusion that for a writ of Mandamus it has to be proved that the person seeking writ has a legal right against the authorities for failure of performance or that the legal right of the person is infringed. However, in the present case there is nothing to show such legal rule from Transport and education department mandating school buses to have CCTVs and GPS.
However, keeping in mind the safety of children the court observed that the State Government has to consider issuance of guidelines regarding compulsory CCTVs and GPS in school buses. The court suomotomade Secretary to the Government, School Education Department, Tamil Nadu as respondent party to the petition.