Take Final View: HC Asks Govt On Easing Schoolbag Burden  

SRINAGAR — The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed government to take a final view within six week on reducing schoolbag burden on children in Jammu and Kashmir.    

“Secretary to Government, School Education Department, State of J&K shall ensure that a final view is taken and duly implemented,” a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar. “A status report in this regard and the decision taken shall be placed before us positively within a period of six weeks from today (February 15),” the court added.    

The direction by the court followed statement by counsel for the state that report of the Expert Committee was under active consideration Secretary of the Government, School Education Department, J&K State.

The committee members have unequivocally agreed in principle that some weight needed to be reduced from the backs of school-going children, the court was informed positively.

The court was told that the authorities are comparatively studying the best practices of other states to address the issue.

The court had in 2017 left it to the “wise decision” of the State Government to address the issue before February 2018 with the noting that the authorities will follow and study the best practices of other States of the Country so as to address the issue in this behalf.

“In case the respondents fail to take a decision within the aforementioned period, liberty is given to counsel for the applicant to seek revival of the contempt petition.”

A law student of Kashmir University Badrual Duja had approached the court and sought directions to the government to ease the burden of schoolbags on the children.

While disposing of the PIL on May 30, 2016, the court had directed the commissioner secretary, education, to consider the petitioner’s representation within three months and take appropriate decision in the matter.

To relieve the children of the burden of books, the petitioner had sought directions to the government to encourage e-schoolrooms, audio-visual technology and other contemporary means for teaching students.

“A government-appointed panel in Mumbai had revealed that children carry school bags that are too heavy for them and over 58 percent of students below 10 years are suffering from orthopaedic ailments,” he said.

The committee, he said, had recommended that one book should be used for three months for each subject and the textbook weight can be reduced by using paper of less weight and without hardcover.

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