The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to supply generators/inverters at all the examination centres for secondary school examination (SSC) commencing March 3 and warned of taking contempt action if the directive is not complied with.
Hearing a petition filed by activist Vishnu Gawli, a bench, headed by Justice Abhay Oka, also directed the government to depute officers of the education department to all the centres to inspect whether generators and inverters have been provided.
Such teams have been asked to file a report by March 3 directly to the High Court and not to the government. The HC was informed that during the HSC (higher secondary or class XII) examinations held recently, 18 exam centres were not provided with generators and inverters.
The state argued that there was no load-shedding in all these 18 centres and, hence, the absence of generators or inverters did not cause any problem. However, the HC observed the state had not obeyed its orders for providing generators to all the centres irrespective of whether the centres fall in load-shedding areas or not.
This amounted to contempt, said the judges and warned that if such a sutation is repeated in SSC examinations from March 3, then they would be forced to take contempt action against the government. The HC had passed orders in July and September 2014 asking the state to provide generators and inverters in examination centres so that students were not put into inconvenience because of load shedding.
The petitioner moved the HC for taking contempt action against the state, saying the government had failed to comply with this directive. Recently, the government had filed an affidavit stating that the responsibility of providing generators and inverters was with the HSC and SSC Boards but the HC took the state to task by saying that it could not pass on the buck to others and that they were bound to fulfil their duty.
"It is the essential duty of the state to ensure that electricity is provided at the examination centres," the court had said. Gawli's petition has alleged that the government has not implemented earlier orders. In July, the High Court had asked the state to provide generators and inverters on a war-footing to schools as HSC/SSC candidates sometimes have to write in darkness, with ceiling fans not working due to power cuts.
He said he had written a letter to the HC in 2008 on the issue, which was converted into a PIL. On February 27, 2009, the HC had directed the government to ensure supply of around 40,000 generators to schools conducting the examinations. In addition, the court had asked Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) to ensure that there was no load shedding at the time of examinations.