Guwahati, Oct. 1: Gauhati High Court today ruled that no student or teacher can be forced to attend schools or colleges on Gandhi Jayanti tomorrow, a national holiday.
A single-judge bench of Justice Brojendra Prasad Katakey passed an interim order directing the Assam government not to compel any student or teacher to attend classes tomorrow. The court passed the order in connection with a writ petition (5818/2013) filed by advocate Arup Borbora.
The petition was filed by Borbora after newspaper reports that Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had asked all government schools and colleges to remain open on October 2 to inculcate Gandhian ideals among students.
“My contention was the government can’t compel anybody to go to a particular place to honour Mahatma Gandhi. Everyone has the freedom to go to his or her chosen place,” Borbora said when asked about the rationale behind his decision to challenge the announcement.
The petitioner argued that since Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday applicable to all educational institutions, banks, offices and other institutions, the state government had no authority and jurisdiction to cancel the holiday and compel teachers and students to attend schools and colleges. “Moreover, this action was taken without any cabinet decision and without any legislation to this effect,” Borbora said.
On behalf of Borbora, senior advocates A.K. Bhattacharjee and P. Pathak appeared in the court while additional advocate-general D. Saikia represented the government.
Saikia said that no penal action would be taken against any teacher for not attending school tomorrow.
After hearing both the parties, the high court passed the interim order asking the state government not to compel any student or teacher to attend educational institutions tomorrow.
The education minister on September 29 said, “All teachers and students must attend school on October 2. If any teacher does not, his/her absence will be adjusted against casual leave. Participation of students in debates, quizzes and other competitions is mandatory. I am sure the teachers know how to get students to participate in these competitions.”