Court says its prior permission needed if any school has to be closed.
Srinagar: In a significant move, the Jammu and Kashmir high court has restrained the state government from closing a school in the heart of winter capital, Jammu, to make way for a parking lot. The ruling would also impede the state government’s proposal to rationalise about 3,000 schools in the state in view of less number of students and more number of teachers working in these.
The local administration recently ordered the closure of a girls’ school in Jammu’s congested City Chowk area so that the premises could be demolished to make the space available for a parking lot. Following criticism from the Opposition, the parents of the students and some local groups, the authorities assured the school would be shifted to a suitable location shortly.
However, the J&K HC, taking suo moto cognisance of a media report on the government’s proposed move, restrained it from closing any government school and directed it to seek permission from it over any such closure. More than 200 students are currently studying in the Government (run) Girls High School, City Chowk.
“Considering the Right to Education of children guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution of India and under Section 4 of Jammu & Kashmir School Education Act, 2002, we are restraining respondents from closing any government school, which are functioning as on date and if any school is to be closed for any valid reason(s), permission from this court be obtained”, a division bench of the court said.
The ruling from Chief Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan also said, “A shocking news item has come to the notice of this court through print media today, that an existing school, Government Girls High School, City Chowk, Jammu, is ordered to be closed by government, even though more than 200 students are studying, that too in middle of the academic year and the area is earmarked for using it as parking area”.
It added, “The students and their parents are in protest. The schools, which are functioning and catering to the education needs of the local residents shall not be closed. Thus, we are constrained to pass an order prohibiting the respondents from closing the Government Girls High School, City Chowk, Jammu and further order to continue the said school in the same premises till further orders”.
The court also observed that the state government is contemplating to rationalise 3,000 schools in the state on the pretext of less number of students and more number of teachers working in schools.