GOOD FOR INDIA

Plea for law to make schools liable in sexual abuse cases

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Krishnadas Rajagopal

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Parents and others at a protest against the recent sexual assault of a six-year-old student in a school in Bangalore. File photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu Parents and others at a protest against the recent sexual assault of a six-year-old student in a school in Bangalore. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

SC seeks response from Centre, State governments

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre and the State governments on the plea for a law to make schools liable for sexual abuse of students on their premises.
“It is a valid cause,” Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu remarked.
A Bench led by the Chief Justice issued notices to the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Human Resources Development and also to all the States. It was acting on a petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Vineet Dhanda. The petition wanted the apex court to direct the government to frame laws, guidelines and policies “fixing the liability of educational institutions on whose premises incidents of sexual abuse takes place.”
“The more disturbing part, besides the gory crime of child sexual abuse, is that educational institutions have no liabilities whatsoever fixed by law in case of such offences on their premises. Even the police administration goes out of the way to protect such educational institutions for their own vested interests,” the petition said.
It said the liability of the schools should be spelt out in cases of physical and mental abuse suffered by students on the institutions’ premises.
The petition said laws should be framed to ensure that government machinery, including the police, act to ensure the “proper safety of school children”.
“To protect the precious lives of children from being scarred as a result of such dastardly acts is the prime duty of schools as well as that of the government. In the present scenario, schools, government as well as the public administration is not doing their duty properly as a result of which sexual crimes against children in schools and other educational institutions have seen a steep rise,” it said.

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