The Supreme Court issued a notice in a writ petition seeking protection of children from any kind of harassment including the sexual harassment being carried out at educational institutions. The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and CT Ravikumar sought responses from the Union and the States.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The petition was filed by a Tamil Investigative Journal, which sought guidelines for the educational institutions for the protection of the children and also for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of children at the educational institutions.
CONTENTIONS IN THE PETITION
It was argued in the petition that it is a fundamental right of a child to engage and study in an environment where he/she feels safe and is free from any form of physical or emotional abuse or harassment. Children are the future of human civilization and protecting their basic rights is of utmost concern.
The Plea stated that, “When their safety is at stake, especially at educational institutions, which is supposedly the safest shelter, and that too during this tough time, it indicates immediate concerns and measures for intervention are of paramount significance. This calls for the implementation of legislative actions and community-based interventions through virtual media to prevent a further rise in the statistics and to ensure child protection. Otherwise, this would leave a regressive impression posing a substantial threat to the future”.
Petitioner in the plea had additionally stated that protecting children against sexual abuse is essential to ensure the constitutional right to dignity of children provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which is compromised when they are exposed to predators.
The petition stated that, “Increased online time can lead to grooming and both online and offline exploitation. Under these circumstances, children can also themselves be coerced into becoming tools in furtherance of illegal and dangerous activities”.
The petitioner further argued that inspired by the alarming rate of the offense against the children, especially on school premises, to date no specific mandate or the law or the guidelines have been issued by the respective States. “With respect that the relevant organization, including Educational Institution, remains a crucial department in the State Government. Any lapse on the part of the educational institution would be considered a lapse on the part of the State Government. Thus, on this score, there is a vicarious liability upon the State Government to implement any law for the well-being and also for the protection of the children in their respective states”.
– Written by Vaishali Jain & Hamda Arfeen