The Bombay High Court on Thursday appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist in a suo motu (on its own) plea initiated by the Nagpur bench against the government’s decision to launch a scheme of cluster of schools wherein smaller institutions will be merged with bigger schools in the vicinity whereby over 1.8 lakh students would be affected.
A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor also directed the state government to file its reply.
PIL transferred from Nagpur to Bombay HC
The PIL was transferred by the Nagpur bench to the principal bench of the HC at Mumbai, which asked additional public prosecutor PP Kakade to file a reply. The court has also added the School Education Department as a respondent.
The Nagpur bench of the HC, in September, had taken suo motu cognisance of news reports regarding the new government scheme declared by the State Education Commissioner of merging smaller schools which caused major unrest in the state because it indicated the closure of around 15,000 schools.
Earlier, the plan was announced in July, but was withdrawn after a PIL was filed against it.
Later in September with “new packaging”, the government came up with the school proposal, which would affect more than 1,85,467 students enrolled in 14,783 schools in the State which have less than 20 students.
News reports highlighted that this was contrary to the visionaries in the state who are trying to provide education to all classes of society by opening schools in tribal areas and small villages in the State.
Govt is revoking the right to education from students: Nagpur Bench
“The Government is revoking the right to education from the students. It is stated that if the said decision is implemented, many students will be out of school and the education system in progressive States like Maharashtra will be negatively impacted,” read the order of the Nagpur bench.
Closing down of cluster schools will result in students dropping out of these schools in small villages and tribal areas since it will not be feasible for parents to send them to larger schools due to lack of transportation. This will lead to high dropouts, especially amongst girls.