In a recent development in the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case, the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Uttar Pradesh state government’s handling of the incident, emphasizing that it had not acted as expected. The case revolves around a primary school teacher instructing students to slap their Muslim classmate, which garnered widespread attention after a video surfaced in August.

Court’s Discontent and State’s Response

The bench, comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan, heard a PIL filed by activist Tushar Gandhi, seeking a thorough and time-bound investigation. The court had previously directed the state government to submit an affidavit on implementing recommendations by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) regarding counseling for the victim. The recently filed affidavit was criticized by advocate Shadan Farasat as ‘inadequate,’ prompting Justice Oka to suggest providing written suggestions to the state.

Admissions Controversy and Right to Education Act

The court delved into the controversy surrounding the child’s admission to a private school, questioning the government’s reluctance and raising concerns about socio-economic differences. The state argued that the child should attend a school within a specified radius as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act. However, Farasat countered that the quality of education at the chosen school justified the father’s effort to travel a considerable distance daily.

Justice Oka rebuked the state, highlighting a failure to address the situation adequately. The court reiterated its commitment to ensuring compliance with TISS recommendations and scheduled the next hearing for February 9.

Legal Proceedings and Critique

The legal proceedings have witnessed multiple stages, including the court’s dissatisfaction with the police’s handling of the case, leading to the appointment of a senior police officer for further investigation. The court criticized the state for a prima facie failure to adhere to the Right to Education Act, emphasizing the need to prevent harassment and discrimination based on religion and caste.

The appointment of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for counseling and expert child counselors marked a pivotal moment, with the court expressing shock at the state’s approach. A strongly worded order in November condemned the state for non-compliance with counseling and admission orders, leading to the involvement of TISS for expert guidance.

Background of the Case

The controversy erupted when a private school teacher instructed students to physically assault a seven-year-old Muslim student, citing poor academic performance. The viral video captured the teacher directing students to slap the boy while making communal remarks. An FIR was registered against the teacher, Tripta Tyagi, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. The National Human Rights Commission also took cognizance of the incident, urging a detailed report on the violation of the victim’s human rights.

Supreme Court’s Intervention

Social activist Tushar Gandhi approached the Supreme Court, calling for an independent and time-bound probe, prompt FIR registration against those responsible, and investigation into offenses under various legal provisions. The court’s intervention led to a series of directives, emphasizing the state’s duty to protect the victim’s rights, ensure counseling, and implement recommendations by expert agencies.

Urgency for Swift Action

The court’s recent criticism reflects its commitment to addressing the aftermath of the incident urgently. The call for written suggestions from the petitioner and the upcoming hearing on February 9 underscore the need for swift implementation of TISS recommendations and a comprehensive resolution to ensure justice for the victim.

In conclusion, the Muzaffarnagar student slapping case continues to unfold with legal complexities, critiques of the state’s response, and the Supreme Court’s active role in demanding justice, counseling, and adherence to educational norms. The forthcoming hearing will likely be crucial in determining the progress made and the actions taken to rectify the aftermath of this disturbing incident.

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