Karnataka High Court sets aside gov't circular on safety measures in schools

The Supreme Court has earlier listed the fire safety precautions that must be taken in schools as well as the rules for building requirements
Picture of Karnataka High Court | Pic: Express
Picture of Karnataka High Court | Pic: Express

The circular and endorsement from the Department of Public Instruction, Karnataka, requiring safety measures to be taken by schools in order to renew their recognition have been set aside by the Karnataka High Court. In allowing the petition submitted by the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS), Justice ES Indiresh stated that the impugned order and endorsements are liable to be set aside as they are contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express. 

Based on the ruling of the Supreme Court, the commissioner and director of the Department of Public Instructions issued a circular on July 15, 2021, and an endorsement on November 2, 2021 outlining the safety requirements that must be met by the schools in order for their recognition to be renewed, as reported by The New Indian Express.

The court claimed that the Supreme Court listed the fire safety precautions that must be taken in schools as well as the rules for building requirements. When they are taken into account, the communications in question won't survive because they were not sent in accordance with the apex court's observation. The government's advocate argued that the schools associated with the petitioner had to operate in accordance with the ruling passed by the Supreme Court. As a result, the relevant communications for the installation of safety equipment in school buildings were released by the relevant authorities. Therefore,  he argued, educational institutions cannot contest the same.

The petitioner's attorney, GR Mohan, claimed that the impugned communications were contrary to the verdict of the Supreme Court. The authorities have not taken into account the representations made by the association to inform them that the communications only apply to recently founded educational institutions and not to those founded before the 2017-18 academic year. He claimed that as a result, private institutions have been adversely affected. The government's attorney also informed the court that, in order to comply with the apex court's directives, the government had installed fire extinguishers in the school and had issued a notification on June 6, 2022, stating that it had taken steps to maintain the safety of school buildings. In view of this, there is no illegality in the new notification. However, the court said that it is for the petitioner to challenge the notification if it is contrary to the apex court's verdict, as reported by The New Indian Express. 

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