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Y.A. Praveen & Another v/s Headmaster, Government Higher Secondary School, Neervaram, Wayanad


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    WP(C). No. 7588 of 2019

    Decided On, 14 June 2019

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SHAJI P. CHALY

    For the Petitioners: Dr. George Abraham, Advocate. For the Respondents: B. Vinitha, Government Pleader.



Judgment Text

1. Petitioners are husband and wife and according to them, their only source of income is the charges received from running a taxi jeep bearing Registration No. KL05 J4950. State Government has introduced a scheme commonly known as 'Gothrasaradhi Scheme' for the benefit of the tribal students in Wayanad District. As per the said scheme, the tribal students were provided with travelling facilities from their dwelling houses to the school every day and back. Since the dwelling houses of the tribal students are situated in hilly terrains, a four wheel jeep can only be used for taking the students to the School and back. The 2nd petitioner was the successful bidder for the previous academic years as well as the current academic year. At the same time, the 1st respondent is not permitting the 1st petitioner to drive the vehicle, hence the petitioners find it difficult to hire a driver in order to fulfill the obligations based on the 'Gothrasaradhi Scheme'. It is also pointed out that, the 2nd respondent on the basis of an anonymous complaint orally informed the 1st petitioner that, he will not be allowed to drive the vehicle. It is also projected that, 1st petitioner has produced police clearance certificate as well as an order of the Tribal Welfare Officer in that regard. In spite of all these, the 2nd respondent is not permitting the 1st petitioner to drive his vehicle. It is thus seeking the following directions this writ petition is filed:-

i) To issue a writ of mandamus; or any other appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the 1st respondent to permit the petitioner to drive his vehicle bearing registration No.KL05 J4950 which is exclusively driven for the Gothrasaradhi Scheme sponsered by the Government of Kerala.

ii) To declare that the PTA of the Government Higher secondary School, Neervaram, has no authoirty to take a decision in the matter, which is exclusively coming under the domain of the monitoring committee viz. the 2nd respondent herein.

2. In accordance with the directions issued by this Court, the 1st respondent has submitted a report before this Court, wherein it is stated that complaints were received against the 1st petitioner and he was warned however, inspite of the warning he was indulging himself in other criminal activities and the transportation of the children by the 1st petitioner cannot be permitted. It is also pointed out that, the 1st petitioner while driving the vehicle is in the habit of using mobile phone. So also other illegalities are pointed out in the report submitted by the Headmaster. It is also stated thereunder that, 1st petitioner was involved in many criminal cases and he was an accused in a rape case, true ended in acquittal. However, 1st petitioner was convicted in C.C.No.286/2006 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate-I, Mananthavady, under Sections 341 and 324 of IPC evident from Ext.P5 judgment.

3. I have heard learned counsel for the petitioners and the learned Government Pleader and perused the pleadings and documents on record. The paramount contention advanced by learned counsel for the petitioners is that, the 1st respondent Headmaster or the Parents Teachers Association has no authority to prohibit the 1st petitioner from driving the vehicle, and the stand adopted by the 1st respondent that the 1st petitioner will not be permitted to drive the vehicle, cannot be sustained under law being arbitrary and illegal. That apart it is contented that, the Tribal Officer is the authority to take a decision in the matter, and the Tribal Officer has issued Ext.P3 communication dated 01.11.2018 to the Headmaster of the school concerned stating that, since the cases against the 1st petitioner is over, the 1st petitioner can be permitted to drive the vehicle. On the other hand learned Government Pleader submitted that, since the duty entrusted to the 2nd petitioner who is the successful bidder is to transport the tribal students from the interior forest area to the school and back, the authorities are of the opinion that it is not safe to permit the 1st petitioner to drive the vehicle, consequent to the antecedents that are observed by the respondents.

4. I have evaluated the situations, taking into account the pleadings put forth, the report, as well as the arguments advanced by the respective counsel, and I am of the considered opinion that Headmaster of a school is functioning as loco parentis and therefore every duty is cast upon the Headmaster to ensure that the students are attending the school and going back to their respective houses safely. Therefore, a person like the petitioner who was involved in serious offences cannot be permitted to drive the vehicle, wherein the tribal students are transported. I do not think there is any illegality or arbitrariness in such a stand adopted by the Headmaster, since he is responsible for the students attending the school. It is also pointed in the report submitted before this Court that, the driving of the vehicle by the 1st petitioner was opposed by the Parents Teachers Association and the political leaders and it was also requested to the Headmaster not to permit the 1st petitioner to drive the vehicle. Therefore in my considered view, Headmaster has taken a decision, taking into account various factual circumstances and bearing in mind the safety of the tribal students transported from various destinations of interior forest areas to the school and back.

5. Moreover, the contract was secured by the 2nd petitioner and thereupon it was the duty of the 2nd petitioner to execute the contract in accordance with law. Second petitioner has also no case that any of the fundamental rights guaranteed to her is violated. Merely because, her husband has license to drive a vehicle, that alone is not the sufficient qualification for the transportation of the tribal children. The authorities have a duty to ensure that the welfare and childhood of the children are protected in its letter and spirit. Child abuse, outrage and violence shocking the conscience of the society is thriving and increasing day by day, and it is always better to take precautionary measures to eliminate any risk for seen by the stake holders as such, rather than clinging on to any technicality in the matter of exercise of power. Therefore the objections raised by the responsible citizens of the area who are also concerned with the welfare and wellbeing of the tribal children, cannot be brushed aside. I am also reminded of the well accepted and meaningful old saying “Prevention is better than cure”, which alone is done by the Headmaster. In that context Articles 39(e) and (f) and 45 and 46 of Part IV of the Constitution of India are relevant, read thus;

39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State.-The State shall in particular, direct its policy towards securing

a) xxxxxxx

b)xxxxxxx

c)xxxxxxx

d)xxxxxxx

e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;

f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

45. Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.- The

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State shall Endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.- The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. 6. In that view of the legal and factual circumstances, I do not think petitioners have made out any case of interference exercising the power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, there being no arbitrariness or illegality. Writ petition fails, accordingly it is dismissed.
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