'More concerned than parents?': Calcutta High Court dismisses plea challenging state government's decision to open schools due to lack of locus

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The Calcutta High Court bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj dismissed a petition which challenged the State Government's decision to reopen schools for students in classes VIII- XII. 

The petitioner, one Gaurav Purkayastha, represented by Advocate Ritzu Ghosal challenged the State government order which ordered reopening of schools for students from class VIII to XII. Ghosal submitted that the notification of the State government does not consider unvaccinated students. He submitted vaccination is available for children above the age of 15. To that regard Ghosal submitted that many students have not attained 15 years of age or are born post 31st December 2007, hence they are technically not vaccinated.

Ghosal also referred to a notification of a private school named Delhi Public School (DPS) Megacity, which required attendance of all the students from class VIII , in the manner of alternate day physical attendance of 50%. Thus, Ghosal prayed for allowing online classes for unvaccinated students to curb the spread of Covid-19 among students. 

Per contra, the State represented by Advocate General, S.N. Mukherjee submitted that the petitioner does not have any locus in the matter since the petitioner is not a parent or an educator. AG Mukherjee further contended that the petitioner is a resident of Birbhum district who is raising issues regarding opening of schools in Calcutta. He further submitted that the petition is bereft of any material particular.

AG Mukherjee further submitted that the prayer of the petitioners seeks to create a divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated students which would result in discrimination. He submitted that the positivity rate in state of West Bengal is 3.34% which indicate sharp fall in Covid-19 cases. 

He further submitted that earlier in November, the state had decided to open schools and was faced with a petition challenging the decision, then in January when it decided to close schools it was faced with another petition to open schools and now that it has decided to open schools, it is being challenged again. He submitted that unless and until  it can be shown that a policy decision is bad for public there can be no interference. 

Additional Solicitor General Y.J. Dastoor representing the Union of India, which had been added as a party submitted that Union shoud ve dropped from the matter and 

The Court took note of the above submissions and went on the dismiss the petition stating that there is already a writ petition pending on the same issue, and also that it finds no locus in the petitioner and that the petition is supported by material particular. 

During the course of the hearing the Court enquired about the the petitioner's lack of locus and asked 'are you more concerned than the parents of the students?' The Court noted that if the parents are concerned then they can approach the court themselves. 

Gaurav Purkayastha Vs State Of West Bengal And Ors.