The Bombay High Court recently directed the State government to file an affidavit on steps taken to provide safety and security in asharam shalas all over Maharashtra.
A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and M.S. Karnik was hearing a criminal public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Ravindra Talpe in 2013 alleging that proper arrangements have not been made to ensure basic public utilities, which are normally given in such ashram shalas across the State.
The PIL states there is no proper toilet and WC facility in the ashram schools. There have been cases of death of children due to snake bite if they go out to answer nature’s call, the PIL said. There are nearly 500 government-run ashram schools, which were opened in remote areas of the State for the education of children from tribal families.
According to the PIL, there are no proper building facility for the students, and no underground water tank which deprives them of suitable drinking water. The PIL also mentions there are no proper kitchen, dining and storage rooms on account of lack of proper kitchen and dining facilities, and a number of children have died of food poisoning. There are no proper beds for children, more particularly, to girl students, personal hygiene of the girl students is not maintained and first aid boxes are not there, the PIL states.
Based on the PIL, the high court had in June 18, 2014 had asked Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to look into the ground reality at the ashram schools. The report, submitted in June 2017, covered both government-run and government-aided private ashram schools, and listed deficiencies by the government in ensuring safety and security in these schools.
The two-judge Bench noted that 100% compliance has not been reported and directed the State to file a fresh affidavit detailing compliance with the TISS report. The high court also sought to know what steps had been taken to comply with the other lapses listed in the report. The matter will next be heard on December 11.