16 Nov 2018
Calcutta HC orders appointment of counselors in all schools
Written byGarima Bora ·
In a step towards raising awareness of child sexual abuse, the Calcutta High Court today directed authorities to appoint counselors in about 1 lakh educational institutions in West Bengal to help safeguard students against sexual violation.
Justice Nadira Patherya ordered that counselors will have to be appointed to all educational institutions in the state in a phased manner within one year.
Judge observes progress in report needs to be monitored
The judge observed that progress in the implementation of a report by an amicus curiae Phiroze Edulji, assisted by a court-appointed panel of educationists, on safeguarding pupils in educational institutions from sexual abuse needs to be monitored from time to time.
Justice Patherya directed that the report placed by amicus curiae be kept on record and steps be taken to implement its suggestions.
Here is what the guidelines for appointing counselors say
The guideline proposed by Edulji said, "Every school must appoint a person, who's an expert in child psychology, psychiatry or sociology and who has been actively involved in child-welfare activities for a period of at least two years, as a counselor for children in school."
AAG says not possible to cover every educational institution
Patherya directed the state and the Center to file a progress report after six months.
However, Additional Advocate General (AAG) Abhratosh Majumdar, who was representing the state, said that it wouldn't be able to implement the recommendation regarding appointment of counselors to every educational institution as the state has around 1L schools.
He claimed that it'll be difficult to find so many trained counselors.
Center agreed with HC over guidelines on safety of schools
The judge, however, said though the AAG has sought a relaxation in the appointment of counselors, a direction for the appointments was required to be passed in the interest of the children.
The Center yesterday told the court that it was agreeable to the guidelines on safety of students in schools as proposed by the amicus curiae.
AAG Majumdar also agreed to Edulji's SOP suggesting minor changes
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Kaushik Chanda told the court that Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 already provides for security measures of school students, but the government was, nevertheless, agreeable to the Standards of Procedure (SOP) proposed by the amicus curiae as an additional initiative.
AAG Majumdar yesterday also agreed to the SOP, while suggesting minor changes.
Case in court: Alleged sexual misconduct by two PT teachers
Justice Patherya had on Wednesday asked the Center and the state government to convey their views on proposed guidelines to prevent sexual offenses against pupils in educational institutions.
The judge, while hearing a case relating to alleged sexual misconduct against two physical education teachers of a city-based school, had appointed lawyer Edulji as amicus curiae and formed a panel of educationists for suggestions.
Panel includes educationalists, UNICEF representatives
The panel included educationists from six leading schools in Kolkata, the chairperson of WB State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and representatives of UNICEF and National University of Juridical Sciences.
Edulji submitted a 100-page report to the court on Monday suggesting the formation of a nodal body under the SCPCR, for spreading awareness among school staff, sensitize parents and set up a syllabus.