DB directives in PIL on Burning of Schools

SRINAGAR, SEP 13: In a Suo-Moto Public Interest Litigation for reconstruction and repairing of Schools burnt or damaged, during last year’s unrest in the Valley, a Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey issued necessary directions.
When the PIL came-up for hearing, Division Bench observed that in our order dated 10.08.2017, we had noted the fact that it is only on 08.07.2017 that DPRs of the schools, which were burnt fully or partially, were forwarded to the Secretary to the Government, School Education Department. That was pursuant to the order dated 05.07.2017. It was also noted in the said order that the Secretary to the Government, School Education Department, had forwarded DPRs to the Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Planning Development and Monitoring Department, on 04.08.2017. Consequently, we directed the said Commissioner/Secretary to expedite the process and clear the same within two weeks, i.e. by 24.08.2017. We also expected that the entire process would be through within four weeks from 10.08.2017. Unfortunately, the Planning Development and Monitoring Department gave its in-principle agreement for providing necessary funds only on 07.09.2017, i.e. much beyond the period of two weeks which we had stipulated. Although the approval has come, it is beyond the time granted by this Court. Upon this, the Division Bench directed Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, Planning Development and Monitoring Department, shall file an affidavit within one week, explaining as to why the time period of two weeks was not complied with.
Division Bench further observed that as pointed out above, we had also indicated our expectations that the entire process would be through within four weeks. That period has expired. The accord of administrative approval and the sanction from the Education and Finance Departments respectively has also not been realized as yet, upon this Division Bench directed that the said processes be completed within three weeks from today. The Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, School Education Department and the Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, Finance Department, shall ensure compliance with this time line. The object being that the funds should be ready for release and the work/ process of award of work, shall commence not later than end of the period of three weeks from today.
Division Bench further observed that Sr AAG B A Dar also informed this Court that all the conditions stipulated in the letter dated 07.09.2017, whereby in-principle agreement of the Planning Development and Monitoring Department for providing necessary funds, has been given, all stand complied with except the accord of administrative approval/sanction, which we have already directed, should be completed within three weeks from today.
Sr. AAG BA Dar further requested that he may be granted some time to submit the norms, if any, for the State of Jammu and Kashmir with regard to the infrastructure and other facilities, which are to be made available in Government schools throughout the State in all tiers of education, namely, primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary. The status report, that he filed, also indicate the norms which private schools are required to fulfill before they are recognized by the Education Department. As pointed out earlier, the report is also required for indicating as to how many schools are in compliance with the said norms and, in how many schools there are deficiencies and what is being done to remedy those deficiencies. For the latter, Dar has further requested for some time as he said that communications have been sent to all the schools to give the facts. Upon this Division Bench directed that the data may be supplied within four weeks. However, for the purposes of indicating the norms, that has to be followed, this matter be listed on 20.09.2017.
Division Bench further observed that from the status report with regard to cases registered, concerning the burning down of schools, we find that out of 49 FIRs which have been registered, challan have been presented only in respect of 4. In other words, only 2% of the cases have completed investigations. Of course, some of the cases (four in number) have been closed as accidental.
Division Bench further observed that burning of schools is not only a crime with regard to property but is a crime against society and against the people of the Valley and this cannot be allowed to be left uninvestigated and not taken to the logical conclusion of catching the perpetrators and punishing them. We find that investigations are moving at a very slow pace and therefore the same be brought to the notice of the Director General of Police so that the investigations are expedited and taken to the logical conclusions. A fresh status report with regard to the same be furnished within four weeks. (JNF)