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Delhi School Principal Gets Jail Time And Hefty Fine For Mentally Harassing 7-Year-Old Girl

The court questioned the school's "whims and fancies" approach to punishment.

27/07/2017 12:34 PM IST | Updated 27/07/2017 12:37 PM IST
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A Delhi Court has sentenced a local school's principal and director to a two-month jail sentence and a Rs 2.5 lakh fine each for traumatizing a seven-year-old child by not allowing her to attend class.

In 2012, a Class III student of OPG World School was asked to leave class allegedly due to an altercation between her parents and the school management over an increase in school fees and accessory charges, reported NDTV. In 2015, the girl's father filed an FIR claiming that the child had been ill-treated and confined by the school authorities during school hours on April 24, 2012. The school contested the claim saying that the child had not been confined, but had been sent to the school's infirmary to rest due to her prior history of asthma.

The school also claimed that the parents had requested a transfer certificate (TC) for the child which had been issued on April 23, but instead of collecting the TC, they had sent her to school.

No matter what the differences between the school and the parents may have been, the school had no right to throw a child out of class on their "whims and fancies".

The court dismissed the school's claim saying, "The theory of the child being not well cannot be believed as the attendant/nurse from the infirmary was never examined to prove the factum of the child not being well." According to a report in DNA, The court also said that no matter what the differences between the school and the parents may have been, the school had no right to throw a child out of class on their "whims and fancies" and that the trauma of such a punishment was immense for a child.

In June, the court had found the school's principal, Rajwant Kaur, and director, Kavita Chandra, guilty of wilfully neglecting the child under Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015. Yesterday, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ankur Jain sentenced the two school authorities to a two-month jail term and asked to pay Rs 2.5 lakh each to the child by way of compensation.

The girl told her father that she had not been allowed to attend class or eat lunch with her classmates in the dining hall.

According to an India Today report, things had turned sour between the school and the child's parents when her father had asked for a break-up of the fees at a parent-teacher meeting in 2012, due to the increasing financial burden of fees each year. The mother alleged that they were asked to withdraw their daughter's admission and a TC was issued by the two convicts without consulting the parents.

The next day, when the girl went to school, her father received a call asking him to pick her up from the reception desk. He was told that the school had issued a TC for the child and the management decided to send the child back home. The girl told her father that she had not been allowed to attend class or eat lunch with her classmates in the dining hall, the mother alleged.

The girl was forced to stay home for two-and-a-half months, which adversely affected her health and she had started getting asthma attacks.

In retaliation, the parents complained to the Department of Education, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Delhi Police. Finally, in May 2015, an FIR was registered against the school, reported India Today.

The parents also claimed that their daughter was forced to stay home for two-and-a-half months, which adversely affected the child's health and she had started getting asthma attacks. "It was very humiliating for her," the report quoted the mother as saying.

Despite the sentencing, there was some respite for the convicts when they court allowed their plea to suspend the sentence for a month and granted them bail so they could file an appeal in a higher court against the judgement. Under the original Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, the offense entails a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment, but after the 2015 amendments, the limit has been increased to three years.

Advocate Chandra Suman, who represented the child and her family, said that the judgement was the first-of-its-kind under the JJ Act, where a school was being punished for mentally harassing a child.

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