The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) on Thursday decided to initiate penal action against an education officer who did not act in a case of an eight-year-old girl being allegedly made to sit separately in class for being non-vegetarian.
The incident had occurred in Balaghat, around 430 km southeast of Bhopal, last year.
During a conversation about festivals in class, the girl said her family celebrated Eid. Other students in the private school reportedly told her she was a non-vegetarian and asked her to sit away from them.
According to the girl’s grandmother, the teacher did not deal with the issue and instead asked the girl to go and sit on a separate bench.
The girl felt humiliated and began crying following which she was made to stand outside the classroom. Later, her grandmother approached the state human rights commission and complained about the discrimination and harassment at the school.
Acting on the complaint, the rights body demanded an explanation from the district education officer, Balaghat district, Nirmala Patle.
The officer, however, did not respond. The rights body chairperson, justice AK Saxena, has now ordered that action will be taken against Patle.
"There were repeated reminders but the district education officer did not reply. The officer didn't appear during the hearing of the case either. Now, the MPHRC is using powers under sections 174, 175 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code against the official," said Rohit Mehta, joint director, MPHRC.
In these sections, there is provision of sentence of up to one month apart from fine. Under Section 13 of the Human Rights Commission Act, the MPHRC has the power of a civil court and can take penal action.
The commissioner, public instructions and the principal secretary, education, have been informed about the commission's action.
The girl’s grandmother said, "We have got her admission in another school."