'Let Government Take Decision': SC on Plea Seeking Reopening of Schools

A bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud said it cannot direct states to reopen schools for physical teaching.

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The Supreme Court on Monday, 20 September, declined to entertain a plea by a Class 12 student from Delhi seeking directions to Centre and states to take a time-bound decision in connection with the physical re-opening of schools and conducting of offline teaching.

A bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud said it cannot direct states to reopen schools for physical teaching. The bench noted, "We just got out of the second wave (COVID). We don't know where the spike is."

Justice Chandrachud emphasised that children need to go back to school but, it has to be decided by the states.

The bench noted it does not have scientific data nor complete information on COVID spike in the country and added that governments are wary of exposing children to possible infection.

The bench also comprising justice BV Nagarathna said that court cannot take over governance and decide these issues. "Let governments take decision," added the bench.

Advocate representing the petitioner contended that malls and restaurants have been opened, and emphasised on the mental and psychological fallout of the closure of schools on the students.

The bench noted that children should not be involved in these matters and emphasised that these issues are fraught with grave complexity. "We don't think, we should enter here by judicial mandates," noted the bench, asking the advocate to withdraw the petition.

Petitioner Amar Prem Prakash said he is echoing the sentiments and feelings of a large body of the student community and fraternity of the country, particularly underprivileged and voiceless children. The petitioner said he is aggrieved by the indecision and vacillation on the part of the Centre and states/Union territories (UTs), in the matter of re-opening of schools and resumption of physical classes with adequate safeguards.

"Raising this very vital issue regarding the deprivation and ill-effects, both psychological and actual, of school children being kept away from attending their schools physically," said the plea filed through advocate Ravi Prakash Mehrotra.

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