Published: 10th October 2023
No water, toilets: K’taka HC calls out gov’t for forcing parents to turn to private schools
The HC said that this is an added financial burden on the underprivileged parents, which creates a situation of haves and have-nots
The Karnataka State Government’s failure to provide basic facilities like drinking water and toilets in its schools is forcing parents to admit their children to private schools, said the Karnataka High Court.
According to a report by The New Indian Express, a division bench of the court comprised of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit said, “On one hand, because of lack of basic facilities, government schools are closed down, and on the other, as there is no option, parents who are not financially well off have no choice but to admit their wards in alternative schools.”
The court made these scathing remarks after Justice KN Phanindra, Amicus Curiae (Friend of Court), brought the court’s attention to a report filed by the state government, which states that 32 schools in the state face a lack of drinking water facilities and 64 schools lack proper toilets. The report further says that Rs 80 crore was allocated for the construction of toilets.
With this state of government schools, the court observed that the state government is pushing parents to opt for private schools. Such a situation frustrates the objective of making primary education a Fundamental Right in the Constitution and justifies the counsel for the petitioner. Further, the court stated that this only makes underprivileged sections of society pay more for their children’s education, which makes them compromise on their daily bread and butter.
“Are we not creating a situation of haves and have-nots? This is unfortunate," the court told the government advocate.
The court was hearing a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2013 to monitor the issue of out-of-school children. The court stated verbally that equality can only be achieved via education, which is why Dr BR Ambedkar holds a book.
The court granted the state government three months to conduct the poll and submit the results on the last date of the hearing. It also stated that when drinking water facilities are not available, the government must provide immediate measures to ensure that there is water for drinking and cleaning purposes. However, the court was irritated by the fact that the government did not take corrective action, instead providing data on schools that still lack toilets and drinking water.