|Category||Right to Education, Right to Health|
|Date of Judgment||_|
|Link / Attachment||View Attachment|
This case revolved around the obligation on all India’s States and Union Territories to ensure the provision of free and compulsory education, as is their constitutional duty, under the Right to Education Act. India’s Supreme Court ordered that all schools, whether private or state-run, must provide proper toilet facilities, drinking water, sufficient classrooms and capable teaching staff within six months.
The NGO 'Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation' played a pivotal role in bringing the issue at hand to the attention of the courts. The organisation had been litigating for eight years for a direction that governments must provide basic infrastructure in government-run schools, to encourage compliance with the Right to Education Act. Almost 800,000 schools were affected by the improper infrastructure complained of, at both primary and secondary level. This case was therefore essential to ensure compliance with the right to education throughout India. According to research conducted by the Right to Education Forum, a civil society group of around 10,000 non-governmental organisations, it was apparent that previous judgments of the court had not been complied with.
In October 2011, the court had issued an interim order which said: "it is imperative that all schools must provide toilet facilities. Empirical researches have indicated that wherever toilet facilities are not provided in schools, parents do not send their children (particularly girls) to schools. It clearly violates the right to free and compulsory education of children guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution”.
It is worth noting that instead of passing another order for implementing its earlier directions, the court this time passed a judgment so that it could initiate contempt action against a non-complying state. This judgment demonstrates that the right to education is of significant importance. It can be impacted not only by a failure to provide education, but also by the failure to provide adequate facilities in the learning environment.
1. The PILS Project
2. Right to Education Case Law Summary, http://www.right-to-education.org/sites/right-to-education.org/files/resource-attachments/India%20Supreme%20Court,%20Environmental%20%26%20Consumer%20Protection%20Foundation%20v%20Delhi%20Admninistration%20%26%20Others,%202012.pdf
It was held that the right to education cannot be enjoyed unless basic infrastructure is provided by the state. The Chief Secretaries of all States were thus directed to ensure that separate permanent toilets for boys and girls were constructed in all schools on or before March 31, 2012. However, it was found in April 2012 that one in ten Indian schools still lacked proper drinking water facilities while 40% did not have functional communal toilets. Another 40% lacked a separate toilet for girls.
The court’s most recent judgment, in October 2012, came after a private petition was filed by the Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation. The court recalled that in its April 2012 judgment it had upheld the Right to Education Act and ordered full implementation of the provisions enacted by Parliament to make the right to education meaningful for children. The court said that lack of toilets and drinking water “clearly violate the right to free and compulsory education of children”. The court stated that children need to “study in a clean and healthy environment” and said its ruling applied to state and privately run schools. State governments therefore must provide “toilet facilities for boys and girls, drinking water facilities, sufficient classrooms, appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff etcetera” if not already provided, within six months, by April 2013.
The PILS Project: