In a scathing reprimand, the Supreme Court chastised the State of Uttar Pradesh and its Education Department for failing to comply with court orders related to counseling and admission for the student victim in the notorious Muzaffarnagar school slapping case. The Court expressed significant discontent with the absence of adequate counseling for the affected child and other students involved in the incident.
To address the failure, the Court appointed the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to oversee the counseling process and recommended expert child counselors to assist under TISS supervision. Additionally, the Principal Secretary of the Education Department was directed to virtually appear for the next hearing scheduled on December 11, 2023.
The Court observed a lack of compliance with various court orders and termed the state’s approach, as evident from the submitted affidavit, as shocking. It highlighted the absence of proper counseling for the victim and other students, initiating the appointment of TISS to rectify the situation.
The case stemmed from a distressing incident where a teacher reportedly instigated students to take turns slapping a Muslim student, accompanied by communal remarks captured in a viral video. The Court expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of the case and the lack of compliance regarding counseling and admissions.
During the hearing, Justice Oka questioned the competency of the professionals engaged in counseling, emphasizing the seriousness of the incident and the necessity for specialized child psychologists. The Court also probed the State’s lack of progress in facilitating the student’s admission to a private school, as requested by the parents, noting the absence of compliance and formalities.
The Court highlighted the delay in the student’s admission and expressed skepticism about the State’s intent to act without a direct court order, stating concerns about the affected student’s prolonged distress.
The petitioner, represented by Advocate Shadan Farasat, sought proper investigation against the teacher and criticized the belated registration of the FIR by the UP Police, which invoked less serious charges despite communal remarks being highlighted in the complaint.
The Court pointed out a prima facie failure on the part of the State to comply with the Right to Education Act, particularly concerning the prohibition of physical and mental harassment based on religion and caste, and directed the case investigation to be led by a senior IPS-ranked officer.
The case, officially titled Tushar Gandhi v. State of Uttar Pradesh, witnessed representations from various legal entities on both sides, including AOR Mr. Shadan Farasat, ASG Mr. K.M. Nataraj, AAG Mr. Sharan Dev Singh Thakur, and others.
The hearing depicted the Court’s dissatisfaction with the state’s handling of counseling and admission in the Muzaffarnagarschool incident, emphasizing the need for immediate compliance with court orders and a more sensitive approach to the affected students’ well-being.