PIL filed before Kerala High Court against delay by Collector in declaring holiday for schools on heavy rainfall day

The Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj has been facing criticism over the delay in announcing holidays for educational institutions in view of the heavy rainfall that the State has experienced this past week.
Flooded Roads
Flooded Roads

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been moved before the Kerala High Court seeking a report from the Ernakulam District Collector, Renu Raj, regarding the delay in announcing the decision to shut educational institutions on August 4, when the district was under a heavy rainfall alert [MR Dhanil v The District Collector & Ors.]

The PIL filed by advocate MR Dhanil, whose children attend schools in Ernakulam district, has also sought orders from the Court to the respondent authorities, including the District Collector, to frame guidelines for declaring holidays for schools, by specifying the time by which announcements may be made.

The Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj has been facing criticism over the delay in announcing holidays for educational institutions in view of the heavy rainfall that the State has experienced this past week.

The petition stated that on August 4, at around 8:45 am, the District Collector announced a holiday for schools including professional colleges through a post on the official Facebook page of the Ernakulam Collector.

Thereafter, it was clarified on the same page that the schools that had started functioning by then need not be closed and the students who had already reached schools, need not be sent back.

According to the petitioner, this delayed decision was illogical and caused wide confusion, panic, and trouble for students, educational institution authorities, and parents.

Most of the schools at Ernakulam district start functioning before 8 AM. The children need to start much earlier from home to school. Due to the delay in taking the above decision from the part of the respondents, the parent and children were in trouble. Most of the children were already in school, some of them were on streets, some of them were on buses, etc. The parents could not connect to the children as the phones are banned in the school,” the petition said.

It was contended that the delay was especially unwarranted since it was raining heavily from the night of August 3 and the concerned authorities could have acted promptly to ensure the safety of the public.

The petitioner also pointed out that many other lawyers practicing before the court with school going children were affected by the situation and could not even reach courts on time on that day.

The petitioner added that there are no proper guidelines on the part of the concerned authorities for taking decisions on such events.

Moreover, he claimed that there are no proper guidelines to manage the social media account of the concerned authorities.

Such announcements of decisions by the concerned authorities through social media must be made with clarity and the decisions taken must not cause trouble to the public, the plea stated.

The petitioner, therefore, sought directions to frame proper guidelines to regulate and operate the official social media platforms to ensure better clarity on the announcements made by them.

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