MADURAI: Observing that “all is not well” with the implementation of the Tamil Nadu government's free laptop scheme, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently directed the State government to form a special committee to look into cases registered of thefts of the free laptops from the custody of schools in the past eight years.
Justice RMT Teekaa Raman said that the special committee should comprise the Inspector General of Police (North and South zone), Director of School Education and the Special Government Pleader (Education) at the high court. Apart from sorting through the cases registered over such thefts, the committee should also recommend arrangements to be made by school authorities for safe custody of the laptops till their distribution, the judge added. Steps should be taken to solve pending cases or cases that were closed without proper investigation with the assistance of the cyber-crime branch through scientific methods, he further suggested.
The directions were issued while hearing two petitions filed by headmasters of two government schools in Tiruchy and Dindigul against whom recovery proceedings were initiated due to the theft of the laptops stored in their schools.
Justice Raman criticised the way in which the recovery proceedings had been initiated against the petitioners, stating that the government, by not following even basic procedures, has deliberately left loopholes for them to escape the proceedings.
"Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in inculcating e-learning among school students. The State government introduced the distribution of free laptops to school students with a noble object in mind but all is not well when it comes to distribution of the laptops to the beneficiaries," the judge observed. The court has witnessed several petitions relating to theft of laptops and in almost all cases the FIRs were closed in a mechanical manner and recovery orders were passed with loopholes, he added and issued the above directions.
As far as the present petitions were concerned, he remitted the matter back to the Chief Educational Officers concerned for proper reconsideration.