Slapping incident: SC directs UP govt to immediately decide on sanction to prosecute school teacher

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately decide on granting sanction to prosecute a school teacher accused of instructing her students to slap a Muslim classmate for failing to complete his homework.

The top court was informed that section 295A of IPC, which deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs, has been invoked against Tripti Tyagi, the school teacher, along with second proviso of section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act).

The second proviso of section 75 of the JJ Act pertains to the offence of assault or abuse upon a child, causing the minor unnecessary mental or physical suffering, by any person employed by or managing an organisation, which is entrusted with the care and protection of the child.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, after perusing the affidavit filed by the Inspector General of Police of Meerut Range said in its order, “It is stated that the investigation has been completed and government sanction for prosecution under section 295A is awaited. We direct the government to immediately take decision on the request for grant of sanction.”

“When it comes to the future of the victim child and his welfare, the state cannot treat this litigation as adversarial,” it said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, seeking speedy investigation in the case.

Justice Oka referred to the assertions made in the affidavit of the victim’s father that the child is “severely traumatised”.

“We are putting the state to notice that we may consider appointing an expert agency for the purposes of counselling not only the victim but the other children, who were involved in the alleged incident,” the bench said.

It asked Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government’s home department, to take instructions on the availability of an expert agency like NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which can go to the victim’s village and counsel him and other school children.

It posted the matter for further hearing on November 6, saying the court will “threadbare” examine the affidavits filed by the state.

During the hearing, advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for petitioner Tushar Gandhi, said the father of the child has contacted them and it has come to their notice that the victim is traumatised and does not want to meet or interact with anybody after the incident.

“We see that he is traumatised and is in need of special kind of counselling. I will file an affidavit in this regard,” he said, adding whichever school he is admitted to, he will be in need of continuous counselling.

The counsel appearing for the department of education said a committee of three psychologists has been formed and it visited the child’s home to examine him.

“We have been informed that the child is introvert since the very beginning and therefore the doctors have requested the child and his parents to come to the counselling centre,” he said.

The bench said it was a problem that the child was traumatised and doctors wanted him to come to the counselling centre.

“Mr. Nataraj, can you take instructions, are there any institutions like NIMHANS, which play a very active role for children? Just find out we will entrust the work to them. We will appoint NIMHANS or TISS and ask them to go there and give counselling,” the bench said.

On September 25, the top court had said there cannot be quality education if a student is sought to be penalised on the ground that he belongs to a particular community.

It had pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for a “shoddy probe” in the case where a Muslim schoolboy was allegedly slapped by his classmates on the instruction of his teacher in Muzaffarnagar.

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Voicing displeasure over the incident, the top court had directed the UP government to appoint a senior IPS officer within a week to probe the case.

While directing that the IPS officer shall file a report in the apex court, it had asked the state government to conduct counselling of the alleged victim and other students involved in the incident by professional counsellors.

The Muzaffarnagar Police had booked the teacher accused of making communal comments and ordering her students to slap the Muslim boy.

The school was also served a notice by the state education department.

The teacher was booked after a video showed her purportedly asking students to slap the Class 2 boy in Khubbapur village and also making a communal remark.

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