The Supreme Court turned down a petition seeking reopening of schools while saying that it is a complex issue and it should be better left to be handled by the government. “Complexity of governance is an issue in which courts cannot issue directions,” it said. The bench added that it did not think that these are matters where courts should issue general directions.
The bench said, “Let us leave it to the government to take a call and the local authority to check where there is a spike and where there are rising figures,” as quoted by the Indian Express. “We cannot say by the judicial diktat to send them to school disregarding the possibility of a third wave. Vaccination is going on,” the SC added further.
The petition was filed by a class 12 student from Delhi. Pointing out the reopening of public places, the petitioner said, “If public places can re-open for people who may or may not have been vaccinated, regulated by COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, it merits serious consideration that schools and educational institutions must be given priority in re-opening.”
The plea also urged that Centre, states and UTs take time-bound decisions on the re-opening of schools in their territories with adequate safeguard and depending on the condition and severity of COVID-19 in their respective areas.
“A holistic and considered decision with regard to re-opening of the schools will not only end the uncertainty and speculation in this regard but also assuage the sentiments of the students’ community in the country,” stated the petition as per Indian Express.
It further sought a hybrid model of schooling in the States which have decided to re-open educational institutions, with the option of online and offline education, making it optional and non-compulsory for students who do not want to attend a physical school.
Rather than acknowledging the concern of a student who fears about his academic progress, Justice Chandrachud said the petition is “misplaced” and told Advocate R P Mehrotra, who appeared for the petitioner, “I am not saying this is a publicity gimmick but that is why children should not be involved in this.”
In a response to this, Advocate Mehrotra denied that the plea was an effort to seek publicity. Not only this, but the bench also asked the council to advise the petitioner to rather spend time on studies instead of filing petitions for the opening of schools. The court said that the petition by the student did not have any data for the court to rely on. It added, “It’s too sensitive in terms of social policy and this is a fraught area,” it said.
The apex court finally allowed the student to withdraw the petition.