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Sikkim High Court requests Centre, state to act in harmony on suo motu PIL on Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya

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The Sikkim High Court has recently requested both the state government and the Central Government to act in harmony to further the cause of education among children studying in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai disposed of a suo motu PIL registered on the problems faced by students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, East Sikkim.

The PIL was registered on August 17, 2020, on the basis of a Letter Petition received from the parents of students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, East Sikkim, stating that the said school has been functional since 2005-06 but without a Science Stream in Class XI, thereby putting the children who opt for the Science Stream through great inconvenience as they have to look for other Schools in pursuit of their choice of Stream. This is exacerbated by the circumstance that the children come from humble backgrounds making it difficult for the parents to address the financial issues.

The Letter Petition also raised the grievance that the winters are harsh in the area and hence the winter vacations be extended by making necessary adjustments from the other vacations taken during the year. Hostel facilities, especially for girl students, are required to be augmented by concluding the land acquisition process.

Lastly, it is lamented that despite several representations made to the concerned Authorities, these issues have remained unaddressed.

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On November 30, 2021, the Bench directed the Assistant Solicitor General to place on record on the next date, the specific assurance given by the State to Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, to provide the said Vidyalaya with additional land.

An affidavit has been filed in the Court consequent thereto on December 11, 2021, by the Principal, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samity, respectively. This affidavit does not anywhere specifically reveal any assurance given by the State to Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, to provide the said Vidyalaya with additional land.

In this regard, the  Additional Advocate General of the State of Sikkim has referred to her client’s affidavit which was affirmed on November 12, 2021, as well as a response to the affidavit dated December 11, 2021 of the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, which was affirmed on December 17, 2021.

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According to her, these affidavits filed on behalf of the State of Sikkim reveal that recently the Additional Chief Secretary, Education Department, Government of Sikkim, has written a D.O. letter dated October 19, 2021, addressed to the Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, Government of India, wherein he has stated inter alia as follows;

“This being a special case, I once again request for special consideration for providing financial assistance to Government of Sikkim to the tune of Rs 6 crore for purchase of the said land.”

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In view of the stand taken on behalf of the State of Sikkim, which is reflected in the letter dated October 19, 2021, the Bench does not find any further reason to keep this PIL pending.

“We, however, request all authorities concerned to ensure smooth functioning of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pakyong, without any hindrance or obstacle from any quarter and also request both the State Government and Central Government to act in harmony together in order to further the cause of education amongst children studying in this educational institution. WP(PIL) No. 05 of 2020 stands accordingly disposed of,”

-the order reads.

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