The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a petition seeking reopening of schools, which were shut down across the country due to the Covid-19 crisis, saying it is a complex issue that should be better left to be handled by the government.
“These issues are fraught with grave complexity. We don’t think we should enter here by judicial mandates,” said a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and B V Nagarathna, allowing the petitioner, a class 12 student from Delhi, to withdraw the plea.
Justice Chandrachud said the petition is “misplaced” and told Advocate R P Mehrotra, who appeared for the petitioner, “I am not saying this is a publicity gimmick but that is why children should not be involved in this.”
The bench asked the counsel to advise his client to rather spend time on studies.
Governments, said Justice Chandrachud, are answerable and conscious of the need of children to go back to school. “We cannot say by the judicial diktat to send them to school disregarding the possibility of a third wave. Vaccination is going on,” the SC said.
The bench added that it did not think that these are matters where courts should issue general directions. “Complexity of governance is an issue in which courts cannot issue directions,” it said.
Advocate Mehrotra denied that the plea was an effort to seek publicity. The bench, however, said, “Let us leave it to the government to take a call and the local authority to check where there is spike and where there are rising figures.”
Pointing out that malls and restaurants have opened, Mehrotra had said that students are getting psychologically affected due to schools remaining closed. It was also depriving children of mid-day meals, he added.
The court then sought to know whether this issue can be divorced from the question of vaccination and pointed out that some states like Karnataka have already decided on reopening schools in a phased manner.
The court said that the petition by the student did not have any data for the court to rely on. It added, “It’s too sensitive in terms of social policy and this is a fraught area,” it said.
The apex court finally allowed the student to withdraw the petition.