October 7, 2018:
Order passed on the basis of media reports on the poor condition of orphanage and homes for children with mental deficiency.
The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that the key education scheme `Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ is implemented in state-run homes for children with mental deficiency.
`Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ is a flagship government programme for achieving universalisation of elementary education.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak Friday took note of an affidavit filed by the Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities which said the governments scheme and the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) would also apply to such homes.
The affidavit urged the court pass a direction to the state education department to implement the same.
The court was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation following media reports on the poor condition of orphanage and homes for children with mental deficiency in Mumbai.
The court had in the past appointed a committee headed by Dr Asha Bajpai, an activist, to look into the issue and submit periodical reports.
The bench Friday sought to know why the government cannot direct its own education department to implement the scheme and why it wanted the court to do so.
“We fail to understand why the chief secretary cannot issue directions to the education department or its secretary.
“The affidavit clearly says that children in special schools and homes (for kids with special needs) should get assistance from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme and if they are found to be capable then they should be sent to regular schools,” Justice Oka said.
The bench directed the chief secretary to pass necessary directions to the education department.
It also asked the government to take a relook at the staffing pattern in such homes.
“It is said that the present staff is inadequate and therefore it is affecting the quality of care and protection of the children. We direct the state government to revise the staffing pattern within six weeks,” the court said.