HC seeks Delhi Govt, police’s plan for handling Bomb Threats in Schools

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought a detailed response from the Delhi Government and Delhi Police regarding their preparedness and procedures for handling bomb threats in schools.

Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing a plea filed by lawyer Arpit Bhargava after a bomb threat email was received from Delhi Public School, Mathura Road, last year, which later turned out to be a prank by one of the students “just for fun”.

Bhargava, who is a parent, recently also filed an application contending the lack of progress in investigating and resolving three out of five bomb threat incidents reported in schools last year.

Last week, a total of 125 bomb threat complaints were received from different schools on the emergency helpline number 112 from 5.47 a.m. to 2.13 p.m..

Bhargava’s plea contends the lack of a coordinated action plan to ensure the safety and security of schoolchildren, teachers, and staff in response to bomb threats.

Justice Prasad sought information on the specific roles of nodal officers assigned to handle such threats, the number of mock drills conducted, and the preparedness measures in place across different zones.

The court has given the authorities 10 days to file an affidavit detailing their current protocols and the circulars issued on this matter over time.

Bhargava stressed the urgency of establishing a comprehensive action plan, criticising the current lack of specific procedures tailored to the unique environment of schools.

In court, the counsel for the Delhi Government, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, assured that the police have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for responding to both hoax and real threats, which includes immediate police notification and evacuation protocols.

However, Justice Prasad expressed concern that these SOPs might be too generalised and not sufficiently focused on the specific needs of schools, which range from nursery to high school levels.

Further submissions revealed that while mock drills are regularly conducted, there is a pressing need for a more specialised SOP that addresses the unique vulnerabilities of educational institutions.

The court stressed the necessity of involving parents in these drills and ensuring that every school has a robust and rehearsed evacuation plan.

The matter is set to be heard next on May 16.

Last week, the Directorate of Education (DoE) apprised the High Court of its “zero-tolerance policy” regarding safety in schools, particularly amid concerns related to bomb threats.

The DoE has submitted a status report indicating its proactive measures to ensure effective implementation of safety guidelines.

According to the status report, it issued various directives to schools to enhance their safety and security protocols.

These include a circular dated April 16, outlining precautionary measures and delineating the roles of school authorities in handling bomb threats.

The DoE said that while it is committed to enforcing safety measures, addressing bomb threats primarily falls under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies.

Nonetheless, it has taken significant steps, including convening emergent meetings to devise safety plans and issuing circulars to guide schools in conducting safety audits and preparing for potential disasters.

The report highlighted the DoE’s comprehensive approach to addressing safety concerns, encompassing stakeholder consultations, expert opinions, and issuance of detailed guidelines through various circulars.

Moreover, measures such as making parents aware of the consequences of hoax threat calls, conducting safety walks, and implementing mock drills for evacuation have been initiated.

Furthermore, the DoE has established an online reporting mechanism for schools to regularly update their safety status.

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The petitioner had cited the alarming frequency of bomb threats and stressed the need for swift and effective measures to ensure the safety of children and all stakeholders.

The latest application filed by the petitioner referenced a recent bomb threat email directed at the court itself, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

The court had earlier also impleaded various private schools’ organisations as respondents to the case and issued notices to them.

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