Closing down Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur against society’s interest: Delhi HC

Observing that shutting down the Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC in Badarpur on the ground of the closure of the power plant there would be detrimental to the interest of society, the Delhi High Court Thursday asked authorities to ensure the institute remains functional.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said that until a committee under the chairmanship of the Delhi lieutenant governor comes up with a solution, NTPC –which is owned and controlled by the government — will continue to fund the school that caters to local residents.

“The court hopes and trusts that the committee will resolve the issue to ensure that the school which is functioning since 1981 is not closed down. Needless to say that till a solution is arrived at, NTPC will keep funding the school in question,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Saneev Narula.

Besides the LG and the chief secretary (as the nodal officer), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan commissioner, an official from the ministry concerned and the representatives of the parents and teachers association as well as the NTPC will be part of the committee, the court said.

The court’s order came on a PIL by NGO Social Jurist against the alleged closing down of Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur.

Earlier, the court had directed the authorities concerned not to close down the school.

During the hearing, the court was also informed that after the closing of the power plant five years ago, children of the officers employed there were no longer studying in the school and even the land has been handed over to the Centre.

The court remarked that the school cannot be shut down as children from the neighbouring areas were studying there and NTPC can’t seek its closure.

“These are poor villagers. We can’t close down the school. Please keep funding it…Closing a school on this ground would be detrimental to the interest of the society at large,” the court remarked.

Senior advocate Gopal Jain, appearing for NTPC, told the court there was a need to strike a balance between the interest of the students and the obligation cast on the undertaking to fund the school.

He said a pragmatic and practical solution should be arrived at by the authorities concerned in the matter.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma suggested that a meeting of the authorities concerned under the chairmanship of the LG may be ordered to look into the issue.

The petitioner NGO has alleged before the court that the authorities are contemplating closing down the Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur, which would have a major adverse impact on its students as well as the aspirants residing in the nearby areas.

The petitioner, represented by advocate Ashok Agarwal, has said the shutting down of the school, which was opened in 1981-82 and was running as a project funded by the NTPC, would be in violation of the fundamental right to education as guaranteed to students and the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

It has argued that there is no justification behind closing down a functional school only because the NTPC project has shut down.

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“The NTPC plant at Badarpur was shut down in October 2018. It is submitted that since 2018 and onwards, parents of the students studying in respondent Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur have been approaching respondent Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, respondent Ministry of Education and other authorities to stop the contemplated action of closing down the school,” the plea filed through lawyer Kumar Utkarsh has said.

“Parents are being threatened that respondent Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur would be closed down any time. Needless to mention that the closure of the school is neither in the interest of the students studying in respondent Kendriya Vidyalaya NTPC Badarpur nor in the interest of the society at large,” it has added.

According to the petitioner, the closing down of the school would be arbitrary, unjust and against public interest as well as public policy.

The matter would be heard next on November 8.

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