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Kerala High Court Recognises The Right To Play And To Have A Playground In Educational Institutions As Fundamental Rights Of Pupils

saksham bharadwaj ,
  17 April 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
The High Court Of Kerala
Brief :

Citation :
WP(C) NO. 19170 OF 2014

Case title:  

Prakash N and Rajani R. vs G.W.L.P (Government Welfare Lower Primary) School and others.

Date of Order:

April 11, 2024;

Bench:

Humbly submitted before the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala.

Parties:

Appellant: Prakash N and Rajani R.

Respondents:  G.W.L.P (Government Welfare Lower Primary) School and others.

Judge: Hon’ble Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan.              

Subject:  

The case revolves around the importance of a playground on the premises of a school, which was addressed by the High Court of Kerala. A writ of mandamus was issued by the petitioner against the other respondents for illicitly constructing a water tank (without the permission of G.W.L.P) which could have been a substantial area for the construction of a playground. The construction of the water tank came to a halt ultimately after the issuing of the writ and various norms regarding the establishment of a playground in school(s) making this judgement in favour of the petitioners.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

Kerala Educations Rules [KER]:

  • Chapter IV Rule 1: According to this rule of KER, there should be a dedicated site/minimum site in a school where a playground could be potentially made.
  • Chapter IV Rule 3: The main area it dealt with was the playground and garden which should have proper fencing and suitable playgrounds for games/sports with a fairly levelled rank of clear vegetation. This should be looked after by the manager or the head of every school.

CBSE Bye-laws 2018:

  • Clause 3.1- 3.1.3: Requires that a school should have land allotted for a proper playground.
  • Clause 4.7.9: Makes it mandatory for institutions to have requisite space for outdoor facilities like basketball, kabaddi, kho-kho, volleyball etc.

CISCE Rules:

  • Clause 4(c): There should be an area of min. 2000 sq. metres with suitable playground facilities.

OVERVIEW (Brief Facts)

  • A writ petition (writ of mandamus) was filed by the president of the Parent Teacher Association in the court to refrain the respondents i.e DISTRICT PANCHAYATH and KADAMPANAD GRAMA PANCHAYAT from constructing a water tank without the permission of the authorities of the school.

ISSUES RAISED

The core issues that were raised in this case were related to:

  • Whether the illicit construction of the water tank would confine/snatch the space where a potential playground could have been built.
  • Whether playgrounds are essential for the overall development of pupils.
  • Whether there are any shortcomings in KER’s rules for the playground.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • The appellants contended that the main reason for filing this case was due to the attempts of the above-mentioned respondents to construct a water tank in the area where a playground could’ve been constructed, without the requisite permissions from the educational authorities.
  • They provided photographic evidence for the illegal construction of the water tank.
  • The petitioners urged that it is crucial for students to have a playground in their educational institutions as it plays a significant role in the overall well-being (socially, emotionally & physically) of the pupils and they learn from these plays or physical activities a lot.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The arguments made by the respondents were in favour of the appellants as they dropped the construction of the water tank immediately.
  • They did not dispute the construction of the playground, acknowledged the things mentioned in the Right to Education Act and did not counter the KER policy referred by the opposing party.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS 

  • Based on the arguments of both parties, the court dismissed the writ issued against the respondents for constructing the water tank as the idea for the construction of the water tank was dropped off.
  • Hence, the writ issued was termed as infructuous to the cause.
  • The Court rather emphasised the importance of playgrounds in schools as they are essential in a child’s life for his/her all-round development.
  • The Court referred to guidelines mentioned in the bye-laws of CBSE schools and rules of CISCE that described the criterion specifically for the construction parameters of a playground, which was lacking in the KER’s policy and in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act ( Right to Education Act) for the same.
  • The court acknowledged that some authorities were taking advantage of the lack of clearly mentioned rules in KER. 
  • Therefore, it was suggested to formulate new guidelines pertaining to the above issues i.e. to prescribe parameters to construct a playground with requisite facilities.
  • It was held that the Right to Education was a fundamental right to the children which included play as a curriculum.
  •  Ultimately, it was held that the State government should amend the pre-existing rules of KER and formulate guidelines accordingly. There could be a variation in the facility requirement based on the structure of the school but particular norms must be considered.
  • Hence, it was asked to the State government to formulate new guidelines within 4 months of the issue of the judgement. If any organisation fails to follow these norms after their formulation, strict action will be taken against them.

CONCLUSION

Ultimately, the judgement served as an integral part in reminding the crucial importance of the playground and its benefits in the life of a student. The High Court of Kerala pressed on the essentials of the overall development of a child through these courses of activities. Although the writ was dismissed in this case clear guidelines for building a playground should be clearly mentioned so that it cannot be manipulated by the people. Hence, it was directed to the state government to make new rules for the same within 4 months so that lacking of these norms does not hinder in holistic development of a child.  

 
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