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Find another school, court tells expelled girl

mumbai Updated: Jul 08, 2010 02:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Adhishree Gopalkrish-nan, a Class 9 student who was expelled from Vibgyor High, will have to look for another school.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed her petition challenging the Goregaon-based ICSE school’s decision to expel her because her parents protested against a fee hike last year.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari said the decision has been taken “in the interest and welfare of the student”.

“Whatever trauma and stress the child has suffered will only increase if she is readmitted to the same school,” the judges said. They chose not to weigh rival contentions from both sides considering the girl had already lost a month’s schooling.

“It is unfortunate that when so much is being said about the Right to Education, today the Bombay High Court has endorsed the school’s decision to sack Adhishree, a 13- year old innocent child, after accepting her fees,” said Avisha Kulkarni, Adhishree’s mother.

“This order has serious implications for all those opposing school managements, which violate the law with impunity. But I am confident that truth will prevail. Our fight for justice will continue.”

“I wonder what my child has done wrong. I will consult my lawyers about moving the Supreme Court,” she added.

The only reprieve for Adhishree is that the high court order says no school will reject her application on the grounds of delay because the academic sessions for ICSE schools in the city began on June 3.

Rustom Kerawalla, trustee, Vibgyor High, said: “There will be a better ambience at the school for us and the students. The verdict is in the interest of all the students and in the interest of Adhishree. The court and we had put forth an amicable solution for the parents but they refused to accept it and this is the result.”

Adhishree, who was already studying in Vibgyor High, was granted admission to the next year in May. Her parents had paid Rs 80,000 towards her fees by cheque. On June 2, a day before school was to begin, the management cancelled her admission.

Her parents had moved the high court contending she was targeted only because they were at the forefront of protests against the fee hike and for the recovery of excess fees the school had charged.

Their counsel B.K. Subbarao had argued that the school had violated principles of natural justice because they did not give any notice before expelling the girl. He had argued that there was no provision in the Maharashtra Secondary School Code empowering schools to expel any student except if he or she misbehaves.

The school defended its action saying it had become impossible for the management to run the school because Adhishree’s parents had spoilt the environment and everybody, from teachers to management members, was under constant fear.

The high court had, during Tuesday’s hearing, proposed an interim arrangement under which the school was supposed to readmit Adhishree and her parents were to give an undertaking that they would not visit the school or lodge complaints against the management.

The parents had reluctantly accepted the proposal but the school was adamant and said such an undertaking would not help.