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Delhi HC Expresses Displeasure Over Lack of Textbook Supply to MCD School Students

Delhi HC Expresses Displeasure Over Lack of Textbook Supply to MCD School Students

The Delhi High Court expressed dissatisfaction regarding the failure to supply textbooks and other essential study materials to students in MCD-run schools, highlighting that the current scenario is far from ideal.

During the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) emphasizing the issue of study material not being provided to students, a bench led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan directed the civic body commissioner to personally inspect the schools and oversee their operations.

"We leave it to you. If you feel you are satisfied with the work that you are doing, if you feel happy with the content of the work that has been done by your staff, we can only say good luck to you. And if you don't want to take action against your negligent officers, even better luck to you. We have brought it to your notice. We don't think it is a scorecard to be proud of. It doesn't cover MCD with any glory. It is not a happy situation," the bench, also comprising Justice Manmeet PS Arora, said.

"Please visit the MCD schools and find out.. Only when you start visiting, schools come into shape. Till you monitor, nothing will happen," the bench told the official.

MCD Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti, attending the hearing virtually, informed the court that besides textbooks, which are supplied by the Delhi government, cash reimbursements for other essential benefits such as uniforms and stationery are disbursed to students via bank account transfers.

Additionally, he mentioned that approximately two lakh students currently do not possess a bank account, and urgent efforts are being undertaken to facilitate the opening of accounts for them. The MCD commissioner informed the court that he has personally visited such schools and identified the delay in book distribution to be attributed to the absence of a standing committee empowered to authorize contracts exceeding Rs 5 crore.

In response, the court emphasized that the absence of a standing committee should not lead to a vacuum in decision-making. It suggested that in such circumstances, the Delhi government should promptly delegate financial authority to another suitable entity.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, representing the petitioner NGO Social Jurist, contended that none of the seven lakh students enrolled in MCD schools have received any books or stationery. He pointed out that one of these schools even operated out of a tin shed, leading to children being left idle due to the lack of essential materials.

The MCD commissioner asserted that the distribution process for textbooks was currently underway and assured the court that it would be finalized promptly.

Given the absence of textbooks, the court expressed concern about whether the students were not studying at all. It criticized the authorities for their "rather negligent" approach, which resulted in textbooks not being published in time for the new academic year.

"(Children) are promoted to new classes. If they are not studying at all, they will lose interest in school itself. There will be harmful effects on students. They are going to a new class without any books, uniforms...They will start studying only after (summer) vacations. Do you realise the consequences of all this?" the court said.

Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi informed the court that among the 17 lakh students under the city's jurisdiction, approximately 73,000 were not receiving monetary benefits due to the lack of a bank account.

The Delhi government's education department secretary, present in court, confirmed that action has been taken against 13 officials for their failure to rectify the shortcomings in the functioning of schools.

The court directed the authorities to ensure that schools are equipped with adequate drinking water facilities and washrooms for the students.

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