PIL in HC challenges building of multi-level parking by razing 95-yr-old Delhi School

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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been moved in the Delhi High Court challenging the construction of an upcoming commercial area and a multi-level car parking facility by demolishing a primary school established in 1927 at Karol Bagh in the national capital.

The matter is likely to be heard on Monday, petitioner Amit Sahni, lawyer-cum-activist told IANS on Saturday.

As per the plea, North Delhi Municipal Corporation had proposed in October last year to construct the multi-level parking by demolishing the school building and premises at Bank Street of the city, and sold it to Omtech Infrastructure & Construction Ltd for Rs 181 crore under the garb of directions issued by the High Court for construction of multilevel parking.

“In 2019, the corporation stopped using the said building as a school by shifting the students to another school which is much smaller in size and does not have sufficient infrastructure such as a playground, open green area, among others,” Advocate Sahni stated.

The plea pointed out that the school at Bank Street measures about 4100 sq metres, while the other school the Shiv Nagar School is only about 1420 sq metres.

The Shiv Nagar School is now overcrowded and after Covid 19, more students are being enrolled to government schools as the parents are unable to afford private schools.

The city government and corporation are duty-bound to provide free and compulsory education to the children up to 14 years and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights is a statutory watchdog for the protection of Child Rights.

If the schools are permitted to be sold by the corporation, then the burden of providing compulsory education would shift on the government and thus they cannot shirk their constitutional obligation.

Further, the commission is also under statutory obligation to protect the rights of Children residing in Delhi, it said.

In 2019, the building of the school was taken over by the Horticulture Department since there are 43 (50 to 100 years old) trees planted within the campus, which would be demolished by the construction company, it said further.

The plea highlighted the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to 14 years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school that satisfies certain essential norms and standards.

As per the news reports, the parking will be underground and for about 500 vehicles only, the plea said.

In view of the shops/offices/food court on the higher floors, the said parking in the basement of the building will not address the parking needs of the area, rather the same will be barely sufficient for the proposed commercial activity only, the plea said.

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