Delhi HC stays DCW’s summon to MCD commissioner over safety of girls in primary schools

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court, on Monday, stayed an order by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) which summoned the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on the matter of safety and security of girls in primary schools. Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri also issued a notice and sought a response from the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on a petition filed by the MCD challenging the commission's June 2 order. The counsel for MCD informed the court that in place of the Commissioner, an Additional Director (Education) would appear before the commission on June 9 to respond to the findings by the panel. The high court listed hearing on July 20 and said till then the DCW order summoning the MCD Commissioner is to be kept in abeyance. On June 2, the DCW summoned the MCD Commissioner after the corporation sought two months to respond to a notice on the safety and security of girls in primary schools. The DCW had initiated an enquiry on the condition of safety and security of girls in primary schools in Delhi following the alleged sexual assault of two minor girls in Bhajanpura on April 30. The panel's team had visited four primary schools of MCD in May and inspected the school buildings as well as interacted with students, teachers, and other staff of the school. During the inspections, several glaring irregularities and critical shortcomings were observed by the commission, the panel had said. The DCW had asked the MCD Commissioner to respond to the findings by the panel by June 9. "It is shocking that instead of prompt action on our critical findings, MCD has chosen to turn a blind eye to the safety and security of primary students. The sheer apathy of MCD officials has led to lakhs of lives being at stake and it has now sought another two months' time to reply to the commission," DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal had said. The DCW had said that the MCD has cited the recent unification of the three MCDs as a reason for the delay in their response. Maliwal had stated that there can be no excuse for further mismanagement and negligence. "We will not allow MCD to go scot-free. I have issued summons to the MCD Commissioner to appear before the DCW and provide an action taken report within a week," she had said. In its summons, the DCW had said that the MCD has "unjustifiably" failed to provide critical information despite the acute danger being faced by young students in MCD schools. "Any delay in rectifying the glaring abnormalities in the MCD schools will make the office of MCD Commissioner liable for gross criminal negligence," a statement by the panel had said. The commission had further stated that the MCD was expected to act swiftly on the issue of safety and security of the children and teachers in schools and take corrective measures immediately. The DCW visited four primary schools of MCD in May. In one of the school premises the DCW inspected on May 20 and 21, the panel had claimed it found syringes, drugs, cigarette cases, gutkha wrappers, and even broken liquor bottles. The panel had said that the four schools were overcrowded and it was clear that the norms for teacher-pupil ratio were not being followed. The civic body, in a statement, had responded to allegations, saying that broken syringes were found due to the existence of a corporation dispensary near the school located at Keval Park. It had also said the MCD school at Bhati Mines was facing difficulty in providing wholesome facilities as it is located on forest department land, while the corporation school in Aruna Nagar will be renovated soon.

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