BY : KOSHA DOSHI
A Public Interest Litigation had been filed by Dr. Johny Cyriac stating that the children in today’s times were carrying heavy school bags which was affecting their health. Growing children carrying school bags weighing from about 10 kilograms to 30 kilograms on daily basis was affecting their health and the PIL was file on this issue. The carrying of heavy school bags caused permanent as well as partial disabilities ranging from mental to physical trauma.
The case was filed in the Kerala High Court at Ernakulam on Monday the 20th of January, 2020. The PIL was filed against the Ministry of Human Resources development, Director of Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), Secretary of General Education department and the Director public instruction.
It has been observed that it is necessary for children going to school to not carry heavy school bags. This would ensure they return happy and satisfied avoiding any deterioration in physical and mental health. The bench dealing with the current case comprised of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly.
The PIL mentions the effects caused due to carrying heavy school bags. The few effects being fatigue, muscle strain, back pain, distortion of spine natural curves, rounding of shoulders, poor body postures and short attention spans. It further stated that the ideal bag weight must be 10 % of the child’s weight. If not proportionate would lead to irreversible impacts.
It gave suggestions to abide by the time table and arrange it in a way to reduce the weight. Further encouraging the children to repack their bag daily. Suggestions for the school to provide adequate supply of water and check its quality, not require change of sports wear and make them carry a pair of clothes in their bag. The PIL even suggested measures for parents and schools.
Question of Law-
Kerala High Court ordered the educational authorities of the State and Central government along with CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education) that the orders implementation of reduction of weight of school bags are done so in its letter and spirit. The bench gave a decision to the concerned authorities that there would exist a periodic inspection with and without notice to ensure fair implementation of the order passed.
The CBSE, Union State were asked by the court to ensure the bags carried minimum weight to ensure welfare, growth, health and create a system which would ensure the children are not mentally and physically disturbed. The court stated that ensuring the orders’ implementation was the need of the hour and day. The children need not be a subject to mental and physical deterioration, they are the future of the nation.
The court emphasized that it was the government’s duty to ensure protection of Fundamental Rights of children also. Fundamental Rights also cover the best possible method for education to be provided. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution protects life and personal liberty. It is to ensures the right to enjoy school life without being disturbed mentally and physically. If the children are burdened then it would deprive them of their personal liberty.
Part IV of the Indian Constitution states that the state has a duty to ensure social order and promote welfare of the people. The Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 whose objective to regulate and streamline the education up to 14 years. This covered that they are ensured no trauma and ensure educational health welfare. The case order sheds light on various other provisions to reach to the stated decision. Those are Article 39, 12(1), 24(1), 27, 28(2) and 32(1) of the Indian Constitution.
Keeping in mind the future of the nation, the Kerala High Court passed an order that the burden of weight needs to be reduced. This brought on various implementations to be followed by the educational authorities. The ‘Convention on the Rights of Child’ was adopted years ago and the decision passed was keeping in mind this aspect to reduce burden physically and mentally on the children.