MP: HC orders demolition of wall blocking access to school in Damoh

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the police department to pull down a wall it built last week blocking access to a school in Damoh city. The court granted the relief “looking at the interest of students and also of general public”.

Sister Sophy Bharat, principal and secretary of St John’s Senior Secondary School, on Thursday told PTI over phone that they were happy with the HC’s order for the welfare of the students. The police have agreed to give way to the students.

“We have plans to reopen the school from Friday if the wall which was built overnight between 8 pm on June 22 and 5 am June 23 is demolished,” she said.

She said they have 2,210 students from Nursery to Class 12 and the wall has forced the school, run by Servite Sisters Society under the Jabalpur diocese, to go online from June 23.

As per the police department, it built the wall on its own land. However, it cut off the access to the school.

“We are going to comply with the HC’s order,” Damoh Superintendent of Police Rakesh Singh told PTI over phone. He said the court has given them relief for a month. “We are going to give way to the students to enter their study place. The school has an alternative entrance,” he said.

A single bench of Justice Sanjay Dwivedi on Wednesday said, “Looking at the interest of students and also of general public, I am directing the respondents (MP government, Damoh collector, superintendent of police and police housing commission) to provide access to the students to reach the school for a further period of 30 days.”

In the meantime, the HC said, the petitioner may file a civil suit claiming right over the land and also move an application for injunction before the competent court.

“Till then the respondents are directed to provide access by demolishing that portion of the boundary wall which is just in front of the school and covers the road, which would make it accessible to the commuters,” the Judge said.

In his submission to the court, the petitioner’s counsel Anshuman Singh said the road blocked by the police department has been used by the school since 1989 and not only the students but also the general public are using it without any hurdle or objection from the authorities.

He said that the road had been constructed by the administration and no objection has ever been raised by anybody for using the land by the school or by private persons. But all of a sudden, the boundary wall has been constructed by the respondents police department, he said.

Singh told the court that it’s public land and the road cannot be closed in such a manner.

Respondents’ counsel Girish Kekre contended that the road runs through the land belonging to the police department and that the matter is a civil dispute which cannot be decided by a writ petition.

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He argued that the school should file a civil suit if it wants to claim the right over the land.

Kekre said that there is an alternative access to the school and therefore the action of closing the road by the respondents cannot be termed arbitrary or illegal.

In their reply, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that the alternative path is nothing but an emergency small exit in a private colony and it cannot be considered to be a full-fledged access road.

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