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SC declines to entertain plea seeking re-opening of schools

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The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a petition filed by class XII students seeking direction to the Centre and states to consider and take a time-bound decision with regard to the physical re-opening of schools and conduct of offline teaching.

A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said it cannot direct states to reopen schools for physical teaching.
“Complexities of the matter is such that we will have to leave it to the governments. Supreme Court can’t take over governance. Let governments take these decisions,” the Bench said while asking the petitioner’s advocate to withdraw the plea.
As the apex court was not inclined to hear the case petitioner withdrew the plea.

“We do not have scientific data nor knowledge of COVID-19 incidence in the country. The governments are wary of exposing children to possible infection. We cannot be running the administration of governance and decide these issues,” Justice Chandrachud said.

During the hearing, the Bench said it doesn’t know where the COVID-19 spike is, in which district incidence of COVID-19 is high. “Of course, children need to go back to school, but it has to be decided by the states,” said Justice Chandrachud.

The top court added that governments have taken a decision for the phased reopening of schools and these are plans that should be left to the government.

“Courts have to be very careful. There is no data. Schools were opened abroad also, we know what happened. We don’t want to name. Children have also to be vaccinated. You may withdraw this petition,” Justice Chandrachud told advocate Ravi Prakash Mehrotra, appearing for the petitioner student.

Mehrotra contended that because of the prolonged period, the schools were not opened and the mid-day meals, mental health, everything got affected.
Amar Prem Prakash, a class XII student from Delhi, had raised the issue of deprivation and ill-effects, both psychological and actual, of school children being kept away from attending their schools physically and having to join their classes virtually instead.
The petitioner said he is aggrieved by the indecision and vacillation on the part of the Central Government and several State governments and Union Territories in the country, including Delhi, in the matter of re-opening of schools and resumption of physical classes with adequate safeguards.

“If public places can re-open for people who may or may not have been vaccinated, regulated by COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, it merits serious consideration that schools and educational institutions must be given priority in re-opening,” the plea said.

The plea urged that Centre, states and UTs to take time-bound decisions on the re-opening of schools in their territories with adequate safeguard and depending on the condition and severity of COVID-19 in their respective areas.

“A holistic and considered decision with regard to re-opening of the schools will not only end the uncertainty and speculation in this regard but also assuage the sentiments of the students’ community in the country,” stated the petition.

It further sought a hybrid mode of schooling in the States which have decided to re-open educational institutions, with the option of online and offline education, making it optional and non-compulsory for students who do not want to attend a physical school.

Jammu

Two Rajouri residents missing after snowstorm traced in Shopian

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Police on Wednesday said the two residents of Rajouri who had gone missing after being caught in a snowstorm in the upper reaches of the district had been traced in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

In an official statement, Rajouri police said that a missing report of the duo was lodged on 24 October in police station Budhal in which it came to fore that one person, namely Javed Shah, son of Haneef Shah resident of Targain along with a relative namely Khadam Shah son of Muzamal Shah resident of Hasote Chasana Reasi went to Kashmir by foot along with their sheep on 22 October. Still, no further communication had been possible with them.

On receipt of this information, a police party from Police Station Budhal was rushed to the upper reaches of snowbound mountains for a search and rescue operation. At the same time, the army also assisted in this operation, whereas police from Reasi district dispatched its teams for this operation, said police.

In the meantime, a specific technical exercise was initiated, and the Budhal police station gathered information based on technical evidence to trace the missing person, police informed.

Based on this technical exercise, the PS Budhal team led by SHO Mustaj Ahmed succeeded in tracking the said person from the Mony Mahal area of Shopian district.

District Police Shopian immediately swung into action and assisted in establishing contact with the missing person, who has now been safely traced.

SP Rajouri, Sheema Nabi Qasba has appealed to the people not to venture on snowbound mountains and areas and to move only on those safe tracks in the winter season.

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AC Approves Creation of 4 new Courts of Additional District & Sessions Judge

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The Administrative Council (AC), which met here under the chairmanship of the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, accorded approval for the creation of four courts of Additional District & Sessions Judges at district headquarters- one each in District Samba, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Poonch.

Farooq Khan and Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisors to the Lieutenant Governor, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, J&K and Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor, attended the meeting.

The Administrative Council also approved the creation of 40 new posts of different categories (10 each) at the new court complexes in the four selected districts with a financial implication of Rs. 258.245 lacs (salary) and Rs 21.657 lacs (NPS) per financial year.

The gradual increase in the population of Jammu and Kashmir has substantially enhanced the judicial workload, which has necessitated the opening of new court complexes to cater to the increased public demand.

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J&K Rolls Out Aspirational Blocks Development Programme

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For intensive and focussed development of the 44 most backward blocks of the Union territory, the Administrative Council (AC), which met here under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, approved the rollout of the prestigious ”Aspirational Blocks Development Programme”.

Farooq Khan and Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisors to the Lieutenant Governor, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, J&K and Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor, attended the meeting.

The blocks identified under the Aspirational Blocks Development Programme are the most backward blocks of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, requiring particular focus to par with other blocks. In addition, the programme aims to improve development in terms of various socio-economic parameters like education, health and wellbeing, and overall living conditions of the people.

These Aspirational Blocks shall be developed by converging various ongoing UT schemes/programmes and centrally sponsored schemes/ programmes. The District Development Commissioners will be tasked with preparing a suitable development plan. In contrast, the Planning Development and Monitoring Department will constantly monitor the district-wise progress of these blocks through a digital portal.

Under the programme, the resources will be delineated across various development sectors – poverty, health & nutrition, education, and basic infrastructure, at the district level. Additionally, an amount of Rs. 1.00 crore will be provided to each block after fulfilment of defined criteria.

The best practices implemented in the development of Aspirational Blocks will be acknowledged and duly replicated in other blocks to ensure the Union territory’s inclusive and equitable socio-economic development.

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30 Sep 2021, 1:39 AM (GMT)

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