UP student slapping: SC slams Yogi govt, asks state to appoint IPS officer for probe
The SC bench noted that there cannot be quality education if a student is penalised only on the grounds of his or her religion
The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to comply with the Right to Education Act and ordered it to appoint a senior IPS officer to investigate the case of the teacher in a private school in Muzaffarnagar, who instigated young students to slap a Muslim classmate, as seen in a viral video. The case will be heard next on 30 October.
The apex court wanted to know why there was a delay in filing the first information report (FIR), with communal allegations omitted, and also questioned the absence of a video transcript in the FIR.
A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal said, “This is about the quality of education, and this includes sensitive education. The manner in which it has happened should shake the conscience of the state. The state must take responsibility of the education of the child.”
The court observed that if the allegations were proven correct, then this would be the worst kind of punishment imparted by the teacher, and noted that though the complaint filed by the student's father related to cognisable offences, no FIR was immediately registered.
The apex court was hearing a writ petition filed by Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson Tushar Gandhi against the teacher, who was seen urging her students to slap their Muslim classmate in a video that received huge traction on social media. The petitioner submitted that the teacher, who has been identified as Tripta Tyagi, principal of Neha Public School, was heard telling the children to hit their Muslim classmate on the video.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Shadan Farasat said the offences under Sections 75(2) of the Juvenile Justice Act and 153A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) were also involved. The former provides for punishment if any person having control of a child assaults, abandons, abuses or wilfully neglects the child.
“Unless there is an effort made to inculcate the importance of constitutional values in students, there cannot be quality education. There cannot be quality education if a student is penalised only on the grounds of his or her religion. The teacher gave mandate to beat child because of his religion. Thus, there is a prima facie failure by the state government to comply with the mandates of the RTE,” said justices Oka and Mithal.
"We can always make this suo motu as there was direct contravention of Article 21A (Right to Education) of the Constitution," the bench said.
Responding to the accusations, additional solicitor-general KM Nataraj claimed the communal angle was blown out of proportion. Questioning Nataraj, the bench wanted to know what kind of protection was being provided to the witnesses and the child. The bench wanted professional counselling to be imparted to the victim.
The court has ordered a report on the case from a senior IPS officer, while also seeking a compliance report from the state government.
The petitioner requested the court to direct the state police to ensure that a criminal case is registered by invoking all applicable criminal law provisions and not just for "relatively innocuous" offences. The petitioner also stated that ever since the FIR has been filed, excessive pressure has been mounted on the child’s family to strike a “compromise” and withdraw the case against the teacher.
It has been reported that police have registered a complaint under IPC sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) — both non-cognisable offences. These are bailable sections, require a warrant, and do not lead to immediate arrest.
Earlier, the SC had sent a notice to the UP government seeking its response in this case. It had also issued notices to the union government, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) on the steps taken in the issue.
On 6 September, the court had directed the Muzzaffarnagar superintendent of police to file a report regarding the investigation in the case and the steps taken to protect the child victim.