Orissa HC notice to government on death of student after sit-ups

Advocate Prabir Kumar Das, filed the PIL citing the death of Rudra Narayan Sethi (10), a student of Surya Narayan Nodal Upper Primary School in Orali on November 21, 2023.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High Court Photo | Express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has issued notices to the state government on a PIL seeking intervention for enforcing Section 17 (1) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 in the schools, which mandates that no child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment.

Advocate Prabir Kumar Das, a Bhubaneswar-based human rights activist, filed the PIL citing the death of Rudra Narayan Sethi (10), a student of Surya Narayan Nodal Upper Primary School in Orali on November 21, 2023. Assistant teacher Jyotirmayee Panda ordered Rudra and seven other students, who forgot to bring books to school, to do sit-ups on that day. While doing the sit-ups Rudra collapsed. He was taken to the nearby community health centre at Rasulpur. Doctors there referred him to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, where he was declared dead.

In his petition, Das also submitted that there were allegations of seven girl students of Bapujee High School in Patnagarh, who were made to do sit-ups for coming late to school on April 11, 2022. In another incident, a Class V girl student of Amodi Upper Primary School in Nuapada district was made to do 100 sit-ups for not being able to answer a question on August 31, 2023, Das alleged on the basis of media reports.

Accepting the petition, the division bench of Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Savitri Ratho directed for listing of the matter after eight weeks for hearing and directed the state government to file a counter affidavit by then.

The commissioner-cum-secretary School and Mass Education department, director secondary education and director elementary education have been arraigned as parties in the case. Das claimed in his petition that he had met Nityananda Sethy and Srimati Sethi, parents of Rudra and came to know that they had not received any ex gratia, compensation, or monetary assistance from the state government for the death of their child.

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