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"Very Serious Issue': SC Questions Handling of Muzaffarnagar School Slapping Case

The Court noted that despite the complaint filed by the student's father relating to cognizable offences, FIR was not registered immediately.

Delhi: On Monday, the Supreme Court expressed discontent regarding the handling of the school student slapping case in Muzaffarnagar by the Uttar Pradesh Police. The case involves a primary school teacher who, as a form of punishment, instructed fellow students to slap a Muslim student.

Raising questions at the delay in the registration of the FIR and the omission of communal allegations, the bench directed the UP government to appoint a senior IPS officer to probe the case.

Additionally, the Court remarked that there appeared to be a "prima facie failure on the part of the State" in upholding the mandate of the Right to Education Act. The act explicitly forbids physical and mental harassment of students and discrimination based on religion and caste. The Court emphasised the gravity of the situation, stating, “If the allegation is correct, this may be the worst kind of physical punishment imparted by a teacher, inasmuch as the teacher directed other students to assault the victim.” the LiveLaw reported.

The bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal noted that despite the complaint filed by the student's father relating to cognizable offences, FIR was not registered immediately. At first, just a non-cognisable report was filed and the FIR was registered after substantial delay on September 6, almost two weeks after the incident.

We have serious objection to the manner in which FIR is registered," Justice Oka was quoted as observing by LiveLaw.

The bench also noted the absence of communal allegations in the FIR. "In the first complaint by the father, he has alleged that teacher is making objectionable comments against a particular religion. In so-called non-cognizable report, same allegations are there. In the FIR, these allegations are not there,” the judge said.

"This is a very serious issue. A teacher telling students to hit a classmate because they belong to a particular community! Is this quality education? State must take responsibility of the education of the child. If the allegations are true, this should shock the conscience of the state," Justice Oka noted.

The apex court asked the state government to conduct counselling of the victim and other students, who were involved in the case, by professional counsellors.  

The bench further asked the state government to furnish a status report on implementation of the RTE Act in schools across the state in four weeks, while terming the incident  as "serious".  

The court was hearing a PIL filed by social activist Tushar Gandhi who claimed inaction of the government in the incident,

On September 6, the top court had directed the Muzaffarnagar Superintendent of Police to submit a status report in the case. It had asked the SP to inform it about measures taken to protect the student and his parents.

The top court had also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and sought its reply by September 25.

The Muzaffarnagar Police had booked the teacher accused of making communal comments and allegedly ordering her students to slap a Muslim classmate for not doing his homework. The school was also served a notice by the state education department in connection with the matter.

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

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