All HC | “Students should have a ‘walk in’ or rather a ‘run in’ access to the playground”

“Education is not only about learning from books in an enclosed classroom, but it is equally about imbibing sterling character traits in open playfields.”

Allahabad High Court: The Bench of Ajay Bhanot, J. hearing a civil writ petition filed by a school, opined that affiliation requirements are of an imperative character.

In the instant case, an open ground located adjacent to a local residential area was being used as a school playground. The school building and playground were not contiguous and were separated by a footpath and a wide public road. In view of the violation of CBSE’s infrastructural bye-laws, the school got disaffiliated. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

Petitioner submitted that the impugned order was arbitrary as CBSE bye-laws did not contemplate that playground should be located in a compact piece of land. Whereas respondent contended that there had to be contiguity in the land area where the school building stood and the playground was situated; otherwise the purpose of providing a playground would be defeated. He further submitted that the petitioner was given multiple opportunities to cure the said defect, but failed to rectify the same.

The Court noted that CBSE’s bye-law no. 3 stated that a school “must have about two acres (or as otherwise permitted measurement) of land and a building constructed on a part of land and proper playgrounds on the remaining land.” It was opined that the existence of a playground was clearly mentioned in the land requirement for the purposes of building infrastructure and playgrounds. Infrastructure requirements for affiliation were clarified by the words “essential conditions” which indicated a mandatory intent and a requirement of strict compliance of such conditions.

The judicial consensus on the non-negotiable requirements of a playground, emphasized in the case of Deepak Education Society v. State of Haryana, 2013 SCC Online P&H 18370 was noted by Court. It was held that right of an educational institution to seek affiliation from a board of education subserves and is subservient to the right of education of children. Relying on the judgment in Adarsh Shiksha Mahavidyalaya v. Subhash Rahangdale, (2012) 2 SCC 425 the Court opined that any contravention of mandatory prerequisites of affiliation bye-law, shall entail disaffiliation of the institution.

In view of the above, the petition was held to be misconceived and thus, was dismissed. [Apple Grove School v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine All 112, Order dated 10-01-2019]

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