Patna DM writes to chief secretary after edu dept objects schools’ closure order - Hindustan Times
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Patna DM writes to chief secretary after edu dept objects schools’ closure order

Jan 25, 2024 06:30 PM IST

KK Pathak, additional chief secretary of the education department, in a letter to divisional commissioners on January 20, had earlier asked officials to desist from closing government educational institutions, without prior permission of the department

Patna: Patna district magistrate (DM) Chandra Shekhar Singh has written to Bihar chief secretary Amir Subhani, seeking his intervention to resolve the conflict that has erupted between the district administration and the state education department, officials aware of the matter said.

Patna DM has ordered closure of schools due to severe cold (Representative Photo)
Patna DM has ordered closure of schools due to severe cold (Representative Photo)

In his letter, Singh complained to Subhani about the “endless correspondence” from the education department, which objected to his order of closure of schools in the district due to prevailing cold conditions and said that it was adding to the confusion, which “was not good from the administrative point of view”.

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The education department had on Tuesday sought Singh’s response on his decision to selectively close academic activities till middle school, if the department chose to challenge his order in a court of law. This prompted the DM to write to the CS, seeking his intervention to resolve the matter.

Also Read: Patna DM orders closure of schools till Thursday amid intense cold conditions

The issue has become a turf war between the two wings of the government, with the education department seeing it as an interference by the district administration in its functioning.

KK Pathak, additional chief secretary of the education department, in a letter to divisional commissioners on January 20, had earlier asked officials to desist from closing government educational institutions without prior permission of the department.

The Patna DM, however, passed two judicial orders — one on January 21 and another on January 23 — after Pathak’s letter, closing for two days each academic activities till class 8 in private and government schools, including pre-schools, Anganwadi centres and coaching centres of Patna, due to prevailing cold and low temperature, which posed risk to children.

This sparked a heated exchange of letters between Singh and Kanhaiya Prasad Srivastava, director (middle school) of the state education department. Srivastava, while challenging the Patna DM’s school closure order of January 21, initially wrote to the district education officer (DEO) a day later to ensure the opening of schools.

The DM Singh then wrote to Srivastava, saying he had invoked provisions under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and issued the judicial order based on powers vested upon him as the district magistrate. He said that there was no provision (in the CrPC) to take permission from the department, and it could only be reviewed or overturned through a judicial order and no non-judicial order or letter could override it.

Also Read: Patna DM faces off K K Pathak over classes in schools in cold wave

Srivastava, who wrote to the DM on Tuesday, sought justification for issuing the judicial order on school closure under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, if the education department chose to challenge it in a court of law.

Among others, Srivastava sought to know if the cold wave affected only children and not the sick, old and the infirm; why he had not changed the timings of commercial establishments, movie theatres, parks, etc.; how he planned to enforce Section 144 on such a large scale to ensure that children stayed indoors; reason for exempting students appearing in board examinations and those attending special classes as part of Mission Daksha; and how he analysed the weather bulletin and temperature chart after January 8 to issue intermittent orders on school closure.

“Your order may not stand judicial scrutiny on the above points. However, the education department is not challenging your order since it is an internal matter of two different wings of the government,” said Srivastava in his letter seen by the Hindustan Times.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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