Ministry of Home Affairs

COVID-19 Impact Responses by State Education Regulators

Background

To tackle the COVID-19 crisis, India has seen significant legislative and policy changes. The thrust of the new rule book has been aimed at softening the blow delivered by the crisis to various stakeholders in the society, including parents and students, and in certain cases, balancing this with the interests of the school management and staff.

Following in the footsteps of its global counterparts, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced three successive lockdowns till date – March 25, 2020, April 15, 2020 and May 1, 2020. The guidelines issued by the MHA pursuant to the lockdowns has prohibited operation of all educational, training, research and coaching institutes. However, the MHA and the state governments have encouraged education through online medium. Various state governments had taken similar steps even prior to the issuance of the MHA guidelines, and had also passed orders promoting all students till class VIII / IX to the next class without exams.

The interim shutdown of schools has come with its fair share of peculiar challenges, with fee collection drawing the most attention. While several states have taken measures in this regard, this post highlights the actions taken in six states – Delhi[1], Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Impact: Responses by State Education Regulators

The Supreme Court of India has termed the right to travel beyond the territory of India as a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21[1] of the Constitution of India. This was most famously stated in the case of Menaka Gandhi v Union of India (Supreme Court, 1978), which had confirmed its earlier judgment in Satwant Singh Sawhney v D. Ramarathnam (1967). As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Indian legislation in this regard is also bound by Article 13, which guarantees people: (1) the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state; and (2) the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

However, reasonable travel restrictions are constitutionally valid, and are enforced through the provisions of the Passports Act, 1967.[2] Recently, Governmental agencies, police authorities and courts have begun issuing these restrictions through ‘Look out Notices’ or ‘Look out Circulars’ (LOC). These communications are being issued to restrict the departure of persons from India if they are subject to an investigation by the issuing agency for a cognisable offence, or where the accused is evading arrest or the trial, or where the person is a proclaimed offender. Until the Maneka Gandhi case there were no regulatory guidelines for enforcing any travel restrictions, or for issuing LOCs.

The Regulatory History of LOCs

Even though LOCs were first officially recognised in 1979, they have recently been used, frequently, to telling effect. In 1979, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for the first time issued guidelines for issuing LOCs, followed by two more such communications:

  • A letter dated September 5, 1979 (25022/13/78-F.I) (1979 MHA Letter);
  • An office memorandum dated December 27, 2000 (25022/20/98/F.IV) (2000 Memorandum)
  • An office memorandum dated October 27, 2010 (25016/31/2010-Imm) (OM)


Continue Reading Look Out Notices: A Questionable Exercise in Power?