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Lawyers File Plea In Supreme Court To Ensure Child Safety In Schools

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Following the infamous Gurugram school murder, lawyers Abha R Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti have filed a plea in the Supreme Court. The petition seeks a mandatory framework for child safety conditions in schools across the country. It also seeks implementation of existing guidelines to safeguard children from sexual abuse and harm in schools.

Sharma and Bharti filed the petition through lawyer Sujeeta Srivastava. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar will hear the case on September 15.

Sharma told SheThePeople.TV that there are guidelines for schools to follow in terms of child safety. But they are only on paper and schools never implement them.

“There is a monitoring body for Delhi, but even that isn’t active. They never tried to take cognizance and pass any strictures against schools,  their staff and administration,” she said. She added that she has suggested more guidelines to the court through her petition.

The suggestions include increase in female staffers in children’s washrooms, at least up to primary school and maintenance of entry and exit gates for staff, parents and children. She also proposes the use of concealed cameras on school campuses which will help monitor the workings of the staff and the children. And she also suggests verification of staff deployed on buses and schools.

“There is a provision for verification. But my suggestion is that even if the school administration comes to know that at any stage that an employee has a criminal record, that person should not be permitted to work. Because the mental state is such that the person can commit crime any time. So immediately the authority should terminate him/her,” said Sharma.

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The plea argues forfeiture of the licence and state grants to school that show lapses. The SC will hear the petition alongside the petition of the father of the deceased seven-year-old Pradyuman. The bus conductor of the school bus allegedly tried to sexually harass the boy and then killed him.

“There is a provision for verification. But my suggestion is that even if the school administration comes to know that at any stage there was a criminal record, that person should not be permitted. Because the mental state is such that that person can commit crime any time. So immediately the authority should terminate him/her,” said Sharma on child safety

The petition makes all state governments and Union territories (UTs) and Union Home Ministry parties in the matter. It seeks proper implementation of existing guidelines of authorities including the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on prevention of child abuse in schools.

“See several distressed children studying in government and villages schools and their parents don’t report cases. Even the children aren’t aware of what’s happening with them is abuse. This is why we made all the states in the country as parties in the petition,” Sharma told SheThePeople.TV.

Sharma is hopeful of a well-thought out judgment by the SC. And we are too.

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