KERALA: Today, Kerala High Court has directed its State Government to issue notice and to take all the necessary steps to introduce the “Prevention-Oriented Program on Sexual Abuse” in the curriculum of all the Government Schools of the State. (Anoop v. State of Kerala & Ors.)
The bench headed by Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas has shown concern about the rising in the number of sexual offenses in the school on children and noticed that, in many cases, the perpetrators themselves were students, observed that the voice of the victims of sexual abuse should not be suppressed, and it is only through education that the victim can be empowered to speak out.
The Court observed that there is a lack of awareness among the Children on the consequences of sexual offenses and their ramifications. In June 2022, the Court suo moto impleaded the State of Kerala, CBSE, and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority and declared its intention to invoke the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to issue directions for paving the way for better awareness of the statutes relating to sexual offenses in the schools in Kerala.
Thereafter, two persons came forward requesting the court to implead them in the proceedings to put forth their suggestions in this regard.
Advocate Parvathy Menon, Counsel appearing for KELSA, submitted that KELSA has already issued a list of relevant laws, which includes lessons on POCSO, which are supplied to students of various schools, and that they are conducting quiz competitions for students above 11 years.
They also submitted that under the aegis of KELSA, a committee has been formed for formulating guidelines and suggestions for providing awareness among adolescents and children. Further, it was submitted that the concepts of ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ needs better elucidation to enable the children to distinguish between the two.
Advocate Nirmal S, Counsel appearing for CBSE, submitted that the Board had identified the need for imparting awareness on the provisions of POCSO and other similar statutes and had even issued a Circular in 2014 as well as in 2017, making it mandatory for every school to initiate steps to instil awareness on POCSO Act.
Public Prosecutor Advocate M. K. Pushpalatha submitted that a Circular was issued by the Government on 18.03.2015 stating that the schools must conduct awareness classes and should also discuss at the PTA meetings the provisions of the POCSO Act and provide drop boxes and therefore, the Government
Considering the lack of appropriate measures to impart awareness on sexual crimes in the schools in Kerala, this Court is of the opinion that certain directions are required to be issued. The Court observed that the awareness of the consequences of sexual offenses and their ramifications if imparted timely in the proper manner can pave the way to prevent the commission of such offenses.
Thus the concept of quality education can have meaning only if orientation on sexual offences and the means to prevent them are imparted at the school level itself. A prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse is, therefore, a facet of the right to education contemplated under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.