Delhi School's Principal, Director Held Guilty of Mental Cruelty for Not Letting Child Enter Classroom
According to Dr N Raghuram, father of the student, the school authorities were getting back at him through the child since he had been raising questions over the whimsical prices of the "educational accessories" and the fee hike, and in their bid to pressure the parents to withdraw the child, they confined her throughout school hours on April 24, 2012.
File photo of the Dwarka-based OPG World School.
New Delhi: A Delhi sessions court on Wednesday maintained that not letting a child enter the class room or have lunch with friends will amount to mental cruelty, as it upheld the conviction of principal and director of a private school under the juvenile justice law.
Additional Sessions Judge Vikas Dhull held the duo guilty under Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and asked them to pay a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each.
Even as it affirmed the conviction order by a magistrate, the sessions judge set aside the two-month jail term for Kavita Chandra, who was the director, and Romi Chawla, who was the principal of Dwarka-based OPG World School, when the incident happened in 2012.
The sessions judge allowed their release on probation with the condition that they will mark their attendance in the court once every month for the next six months. The judge accepted a report submitted earlier by the probation officer, who had favoured their release on a bond of good conduct. Chandra and Chawla were released by the court on Wednesday after furnishing a surety bond of Rs 30,000 each.
In an unprecedented judgment which had acknowledged a non-violent act as an offence punishable under the juvenile law, the magistrate had underlined that not allowing the child to sit in the classroom amounts to wilful neglect.
"The act of not allowing the child to sit in the classroom amounts to willful neglect which caused unnecessary mental suffering to her, and the trauma that a child undergoes is immense — once the child goes to school and is not allowed to sit in the classroom," the magistrate had noted while convicting the two top management officials of the school.
In his complaint, father of the student Dr N Raghuram had alleged that his seven-year-old daughter was "ill-treated", not allowed to enter the class room and was even not permitted to eat her lunch with her class mates when she went to the school on April 24, 2012.
According to Raghuram, the school authorities were getting back at him through the child since he had been raising questions over the whimsical prices of the “educational accessories” and the fee hike, and in their bid to pressure the parents to withdraw the child, they confined her throughout school hours on April 24, 2012.
The school authorities, on the other hand, had said that the student was given a transfer certificate on April 23, and when she turned up the next day, she was sent to infirmary because she was apparently "not feeling well".
The magistrate trashed the defence by the school and held the principal and director guilty under the juvenile law. When it sentenced them to jail for two months, it stayed the order to enable the duo file an appeal before the sessions court.
Speaking to CNN-News18 after the order today, Raghuram said he had mixed emotions.
"We, as parents, are happy that the legal precedent has not been disturbed and that the excellent judgment, which had recognised mental harassment as a criminal offence, has been retained. But at the same time, since the jail term has been completely set aside, it can be questioned whether the case succeeded in bringing about an adequate deterrent in terms of the punishment. The school officials has to pay Rs 2.5 lakh each and they would be pretty happy to get away after paying money."
Raghuram's lawyer Chandra Suman expressed hope that other private schools will take a cue and will be wary of ill-treating a child in future. "A clear signal has been given that a child cannot be ill-treated, nor just physically but also mentally," he said.
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