A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna of the Delhi High Court today pulled up the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government for non-release of funds for additional classrooms and toilets in 6 new school buildings and asked the government, “If education is your priority, then how can this be?”
The Delhi High Court has issued notice on the public interest litigation and sought a response from the Delhi Government by December 5.
The Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO called ‘Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group’.
The plea alleged that the Delhi Government had failed to pay Rs 1667.20953 lakhs to the Public Works Department (PWD) for more than 2 years now.
It stated that this was resulting in deprivation of thousands of students of Government schools from the use of the 6 additional school buildings having almost 358 classrooms.
The said school buildings are located at Mukundpur, Bakhtawarpur, Lancer Road, Rani Bagh, Rohini, MS Punjab Khore, according to the petition.
The petitioner has said that with the handover of the school buildings being held up due to non-payment, students’ health and education both are suffering and cited the example of GBSS Mukundpur. It claimed that 8,000 students’ lives are affected due to shortage of classrooms in the said school.
Questioning the reason for such suffering of students despite the fact that 80% of the construction work in the newly constructed school building of Mukundpur was completed by then, the petitioner had approached the Delhi High Court in October as well.
The Court had then directed the Delhi government to take necessary steps, however the NGO has stated in the present petition that no steps have been taken by the government so far. No response on their representation was made either, they have claimed.
Stating that it is “a blatant failure on the part of respondents to discharge their constitutional and legal obligations to provide education to children of masses,” and a mockery of the Right to Education Act, 2009, the petitioner has said it is a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the students under Articles 14, 21 and 21-A of the Constitution.
While all the construction work was sanctioned in 2017-18, the payment has not been completed till date, despite 100% of the work having been completed in 3 schools (GGSSS Rani Bagh, SV Co-ed Sec 7, Rohini, and Govt Co-ed MS Punjab Khore) and 53-85% in the other 3 (GGSS Mukundpur, GBSS Bakhtawarpur, SV Lancer Road).
It has been alleged that the pending amount will only be cleared after approval of the Council of Ministers – held up for reasons best known to the Delhi Government.
Reliefs asked for
The petitioner has prayed for the immediate handover of the said new buildings to the 6 schools, and for directions to the Delhi Government to convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers where the required approval for payment can be granted.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Ashok Agarwal and Utkarsh Kumar.