Sunday, September 25, 2022

Bombay HC Goa bench orders Class 11 science stream in school from April 2023

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The Bombay High Court has said that protecting the interest and the academic career of students would only be a part of a right available to the students, namely, the right to education and any loss in the academic career of the students is an irreparable loss and cannot be measured in monetary terms.

The Goa Division Bench of Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice Bharat P. Deshpande disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking direction to a school principal to commence classes in standard 11 in science stream from the next academic year beginning from April 2022.

The petitioners are parents whose wards are studying in respondent Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalay at Valpoi, Satari, North Goa. Taking into consideration the issue involved in the petition, notice was issued to the respondents and response was sought for by way of affidavits. Vide order dated 06.06.2022 the Division Bench of the High Court directed the Commissioner, Navodaya Vidhyalay to depute a suitable officer to inspect the premises and also hold consultations with the principal of the Vidhyalaya. It was further directed that the Commissioner should then file an affidavit before this Court addressing the issue raised in this petition.

The principal of the said Navodaya Vidhyalay filed an affidavit in the High Court and the Division Bench took note of a statement in the file wherein it was stated that the principal herself is very much interested in opening the Science stream in the school. Thus, the Class 11 science stream was to be made functional from academic year 2016 itself but due to certain difficulties it could not be started and the petition was filed before the High Court.

The Commissioner filed his affidavit in response in compliance with an order of the High Court dated 06.06.2022.A copy of the report submitted by the Deputy Commissioner, NVS RO Pune is annexed to the affidavit. On perusal of this report, the Bench noted that the Deputy Commissioner himself along with the Jr. Engineer, NVS, RO Pune and a representative of technical personnel from UP Jal Nigam, Construction Agency visited the said school. The team physically visited the entire school premises and thoroughly checked the infrastructure.

The principal in her reply made reference to the regulations (Affiliation Bye-Laws 2018) of Central Board of Secondary Education, more particularly Regulation No.4.1 and 4.2 which specifically lays down the infrastructure which is required for having a classroom and laboratory. The regulations 4.1 and 4.2 read thus:

‘4.1 Class Rooms – maximum size should be 8 x 6m (approximately 500 sq. ft.). There should be one room for each class. Minimum floor space should be at least 1 per student.

4.2 Science Laboratory-(Composite for Secondary or/and separate Physics, Chemistry and Biology for Senior Secondary)-minimum size should be 9m x 6m each (approximately 600 sq.ft.).’

The Commissioner in his reply dated 19.07.2022 though referred to the report of the Deputy Commissioner had some reservations only in view of the approaching rainy season.

It is further stated in the affidavit in reply filed on behalf of the Commissioner that science stream needs full and functional laboratory and classroom and unless such kind of logistics and infrastructure is available to take care of the studies of the students for science, it would be fruitless in absence of the experimental learning, to facilitate the scholastic and learning process of the students in a substantive and vital manner. The Commissioner stated that in view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, that with the leave of the Court decision regarding opening of Science stream (Class 11) in JNV, North Goa would be taken only after assessing the infrastructure.

At the cost of repetition, the Bench said that when there is ample material placed on record that by certain modifications in the existing premises if the Class 11 science classroom may be made fully functional, then, in the opinion of the Bench, there is no need for any further assessment as stated by the Commissioner. There was also some reservation in view of an order passed by the Court.

Considering the report of the Deputy Commissioner, wherever necessary modifications are required to be carried out are only in the existing premises of the school and by such modifications no third party interest is created. Thus, the bench opined that granting permission to the principal and the Commissioner concerning modifications and making the Class 11 Science stream functional would not be an act of committing breach of the order of this Court dated 20.06.2006.

“We further state that the dispute between the principal and the landlord on civil side may have its own backdrop and implications but such dispute cannot be a reason to stall the academic career of a student who is desirous of prosecuting his studies in Class 11 Science stream. Protecting the interest and the academic career of the students would be only a part of a right available to the students, namely, the right to education. We may further state that any loss in the academic career of the students is an irreparable loss and cannot be counted in terms of money.”

Considering the above aspects, namely the requirements of a fully functional class room for 11 Science stream by making necessary modifications, it may not be out of place to state here that vide communication dated 01.09.2022, administrative approval and expenditure sanction is granted for these modifications. Though the petitioners pray for the directions for commencing the Std 11 Science stream for the academic year beginning from April 2022, as of now half of the academic year is already complete, observed the Bench.

Therefore, the Court directed the respondent authorities to to take all necessary steps to commence the class in Class 11 Science stream from the academic year beginning April 2023 pursuant to the report of the Deputy Commissioner as well as the affidavit filed by the principal wherein regulation no. 4.1 and 4.2 is referred to.

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