Dropouts may end up being criminals: HC

Dropouts may end up being criminals: HC

The High Court said on Monday that if the State government did not bring dropouts back to school, these children would end up becoming workers or criminals in the next 10-15 years.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice H G Ramesh asked the government counsel as to why they were not serious about bringing back out-of-school children (OOSC).

The court pulled up the government for not holding the co-ordination committee meeting on the issue, which was scheduled for June 9. 

During the hearing of a suo motu PIL, the government advocate submitted that the meeting was not held as the chief secretary was in Delhi for a meeting on the Cauvery water dispute. 

The advocate said that they were able to bring back 53,911 OOSC and enrol them in schools. He said the meeting has been rescheduled for July 7.

Amicus curiae Aditya Sondhi said no notice was given to the committee members before the meeting. Further, there is no progress on the issue as the secretaries and the officers are not co-ordinating with the other committee members, he said.

Sondhi said May was very crucial for the government to take up the enrolment of the OOSC as the academic year begins in June. 

The crucial period was not taken seriously, he said.

Jayna Kothari, representing the Centre for Law and Policy Research, said that among the districts, Yadgir had the highest number of OOSC.  The counsel said the local bodies in the district were not even aware about the Right to Education Act. 

Kathyayini Chamaraj from Civic Bangalore said that ever since the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered a blanket ban on children below 14 years of age working in industries, there has been no report from the Labour department on the number of children working in various industries or a report on the action taken.

The Chief Justice observed that the absence of the chief secretary cannot be taken as an excuse and such a meeting cannot be put off. He said that a specific officer must be appointed to ensure that the committee meeting is held as scheduled.

The bench directed the government counsel to provide details about NGOs in the State working on child rights and education. 

The bench sought a report on what exactly the government was doing to bring back children in the age group of 6-14 years to school and on the number of children who have been admitted in school and those left out. The matter was adjourned to July 9.

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