Odisha Child Rights Commission- An Institution committed to protect the interest of the Private English-medium Schools at the cost of the rights of the Children- A glaring Case Study
The unholy alliance of the OSCPCR with English-Medium Private School is exposed.
All of you might be aware that on 20.1.16 a news has been covered in Sambad News paper about immediate intervention of District Child Protection Officer, Koraput and police action to arrest lady administrator and teacher of Sunabeda Public School ( Private English-Medium School) for physically torturing a child in the school. But here in Bhubaneswar, though the complaint about physical torture and humiliation of two children in two Private Schools i.e, Sai International School and Bhubaneswar Model School known as Takshasila School has been lodged to OSCPCR and Child Welfare Committee, Khurda for 3 months, no action has been taken against the culprits. The functioning of the Child Rights Commission has been questionable for their blatant failure to protect the right of the children. Rather, OSCPCR which has mandate to provide protection to the children, is seen as agent of the Private Schools.
As per section 13, 14 and 15 of Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, the Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( OSCPCR ) is required to inquire into violation of child rights suo moto , inquire into complaints relating to deprivation, torture and non-implementation of laws providing for protection and development of the children. After enquiry, the Commission shall take the following steps.
Section 15 (i) where the inquiry discloses, the commission of violation of child rights of a serious nature or contravention of provisions of any law for the time being in force, it may recommend to the concerned Government or authority the initiation of proceedings for the prosecution or such other action as the Commission may dim fit against the concerned person or persons;
(ii) the Commission may approach the Supreme Court or the High Court for such direction, orders or writ as that the court may deem necessary;
(iii) the Commission may recommend to the concerned Government or authority for the grant of such interim relief to the victim or the members of his family as the commission may consider necessary.
Similarly, Section 16 of the Right to Education Act,2009 prescribes that No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from the school till the completion of elementary education. Section 17 of the RTE Act also says that No child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment.
Let us examine how the OSCPCR has failed to adher to the abovementioned powers and protected the rights of the child.
Srikant Auropratik, son of Prakash Ch. Nayak and Mrs. Amita Subhada ( M-8763790311) , a Class-9 student was physically tortured, humiliated and mentally harassed ( scolding and misbehaving) by the authority of Takshashila Model School, IRC Village, Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar and suddenly dropped to Class-VIII in the middle of the year on the ground of bad performance. When the parents asked for Progress Report of the child, the authority of the school continued to ignore their request till yet. The parents were also threatened to take back to other schools without citing any ground. Though the parents appraised the authority that “no school was ready to take student in mid-session as CBSE registration has completed”, the authority remained adamant and asked the parents to take the children back. Ultimately, Srikant Auropratik was humiliated and suffered from mental depression and forced to leave the school on 29.10.15.
Then, on 2nd Nov.15, the parents filed the petition before Secretary, School & Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha on Grievance day and explained the harassment and handed over the petitions and the documents. The Secretary immediately issued order to Director, secondary Education and Director, Elementary Education for necessary action so that child is not dropped out. But astonishingly, after one month, the Director, Elementary Education ordered enquiry into the matter and directed DEO, Khurda and BEO, Bhubaneswar to look into the matter and report back within 7 days. (GRC Application No: 269/2850/15, DEO. Khurda letter No: 21125 dated 4th December, 2015). On 13.1.16, the Assistant Block Education Officer introducing him as Inquiry Officer made a call to the parents and sought the information. Though three months passed, no step has been taken by the administration to get the child admitted in the school.
Then, on 3.11.15, the Parents approached the Odisha Child Rights Commission by filling complaints levelling details of allegation, mental torture, harassment caused to their son and seeking quick justice for their child. Ms. Rajalaxmi Das, Member, OSCPCR registered the case ( Case No.-810/15 ) on 4.11.15 and initiated the enquiry. The details of enquiry is as follows.
a. On 12.11.15, the Commission heard from the Child and father ,but did not allow the Mother to be heard, though she was involved in the case and victim of the rough behaviour of the authority of the school.
b. After around one month on 10.12.15, the two-member Commission heard the case inviting both the parties. Interestingly, the Commission did not allow the representative of the petitioner to plead their case, in spite of several requests.
c. On 16.12.15, the Commission again issued notice for hearing of the case. The petitioners approached the Commission to allow their representative to plead the case. While the Commission turned down the request of the petitioner, but allowed the representative of the School Authority. The Case was heard and nothing happened.
d. The Commission verbally told the parents that the case to be heard on 28thDec.15. But the hearing was abruptly postponed and no communication was made to the petitioner.
A. Till yet, the Commission has neither provided the proceedings of the hearing nor its final order to the petitioner.
B. As a statutory body committed to protect the right of the Child for which it is mandated, the Commission has precariously failed to discharge their duties to ensure admission of the child in the school.
C. As the child was physically tortured, humiliated the Commission could have ordered to file FIR for enquiry into it. But the Commission maintained ominous silence till today.
D. The Academic career of a child got destroyed due to inaction of Child Rights Commission having unholy alliance with corrupt private schools.
E. The Child Rights Commission precariously failed to observe the law of the land and enforce section 16 and 17 of the Right to Education Act.
On the other hand, on 10.1.16, Sri Pradip Pradhan, State Convener, Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan filed a petition to the Chairman, Child Welfare Committee , Khurda to take immediate step to get the child admitted in the Bhubaneswar Model School and initiate legal proceeding against the people responsible for torturing the child. Though ten days passed, the Child Welfare Committee has not taken any steps to protect the right of the Child.
Aum Prasad Das, son of Sri Pramod Das, a child belonging to disadvantaged community was admitted in Pre-school ( KG-1) in Sai International School in 7.3.2011 on recommendation of then Minister for School and Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha as per section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act( the Private Schools shall admit in Class 1, to the extent of at least twenty-five percent of the strength of that Class, children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory elementary education till its completion. Though the authority allowed the admission of the child, but later on forcibly collected money in the name of different fees from time to time. Finding no opportunity for redressal of grievances and love for education of their sons, the parents managed to pay the fees. When the demand for fees crossed the limit, the parents opposed and expressed their reluctance to pay the fees. Then, the authority of the school not only harassed and tortured the child but discriminated in the school. Harassed, humiliated and depressed psychologically, Aum Prasad was forced to leave the school.
In their pursuit to get justice, Sri Pramod Das, Father of Aum Prasad Das filed a complaint dated 25.9.15 to Governor, Odisha against Sai International School and to get justice for his child. Though the complaint was forwarded to the Secretary, Dept. of School and Mass Education and Sai International School, they have not taken any steps to ensure justice to the child.
Then, Sri Das filed complaint to OSCPCR on 19.9.15 describing details of allegations of deliberate harassment, persistent intimidating behaviour to his child Aum Prasad Das, segregating him from other students, open denouncement in the presence of other students etc. and sought immediate intervention of the Commission to provide justice to his son and initiate legal action against the authority of the School.
A. The Complaint was lying pending and gathering dust in the office of Commission for one and half months. Then, acting upon the complaint registered as Case No. 770/2015, the Commission issued order dated 4.11.15 to Sai International School to allow the child Aum Prasad Das to attend the classes and to provide him with all the facilities as provided earlier and issued notice to both the parties for submission of documents in their favour .
B. Though the School Authority admitted the child in the school, but still did not ensure the facilities availed by the child earlier.
C. On 9.11.15, while submitting the documents, the Complainant informed the Commission that his son had taken admission in the school under disadvantaged group as per Right to Education Act. But the Authority continued to collect from him different kind of fees since admission and demanded full payment of fees in 2015 which was unbearable on his part to pay it.
D. On 16.11.15, the Complainant informed the Commission about denial of facilities to his son in the School. But Ms. Rajalaxmi Das, Member, OSCPCR did not hear his grievances and refrained from taking any steps against the School Authority.
E. On 26.11.15, the Commission heard the case but did not allow the representative of the Complainant for pleading, though the Commission had written in her letter to the Complainant to appear in person or with the representatives along with the documents. However the complainant was forced to appear for pleading the case with his little knowledge. Though the Complainant raised the issue of child torture and harassment in the school, the Commission remained silence over it.
F. The Commission again heard the case on 18.11.15. The Complainant again requested the Commission to allow his representative to plead the case. But Ms. Rajalaxmi Das, Member hearing the case violently turned down the request. However, the hearing ended with no result.
G. Though the Commission assured for further hearing, but it did not conduct any hearing and passed the order on 6.1.2016 which was received by the Petitioner on 18.1.16.
H. Though the petitioner appraised the Commission time and again about the humiliation and discrimination suffered by the Child in the school during hearing, the Commission neither heard it nor passed any order for enquiry into it nor initiated any legal action against the culprits. It deserves to be mentioned here that the Child is still suffering from humiliation , harassment and depression.
I. In its order, the Commission has directed the School authorities to provide the basic educational facilities to Sri Om Prakash Das as per RTE Act and further direct to the petitioner to submit all relevant documents to the School authorities within a period of one month to avail the benefit of RTE Act.
Analysis of the Decision of the OSCPCR
A. The major allegation of the petitioner was that his child was physically tortured, humiliated and harassed by the School Teacher time and again. At last, the child who was suffering from mental trauma and depression was denied to enter into the school. The Commission in its order has completely ignored it and not recommended any action against the authority and teachers of the School. The unholy alliance of the Member, OSCPCR with the authority of Sai International School is established as apprehended from the very beginning the way the omission was dealing the case.
B. In its order, the Commission has written down the details of the argument and counter-argument made with reference to the laws which led to final decision. The Commission has precariously failed to maintain minimum judicial decorum during hearing and disposal of the case. Though the Petitioner approached several times to the Commission to get the copy of the proceeding of the hearing, the Commission could not be able to provide him.
C. Similarly, the Commission did not allow the representative of the petitioner to plead for him during hearing despite several requests. It raises number of the issues relating to functioning of the Commission. It may be the Commission does not have knowledge about judicial decorum of the country or the Commission might be under impression that her ignorance about law would be exposed by expert-representative of the petitioner or the Commission’s nexus with Private School would be exposed in broad day-light.
D. However, the Commission succeeded in manipulating judicial procedure in favour of Private School and proved as most trusted agent of that School.
E. Last but not least, the final order of the Commission passed on 6.1.16 was communicated to the Petitioner on dated 12.1.16 by post which was received by the petitioner on 18.1.16 , on the same day, a Caveat Petition filed by the Advocate of Sai International School in Odisha High Court reached to the petitioner by post. It is proved that the Commission sent its copy of the order first to the Authority of the School giving them opportunity to consult advocate to take pre-cautionary measure which was manifested in form of filling Cavet Petition by the authority. It shows how Ms. Ralalaxmi Das, Member of OSCPCR is serious, determined and dedicated to protect the interest of Sai International School. Earlier allegation about the Commission acting as Agent of the Private School was found true and justified.