The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all States and Union Territories to ensure that basic toilet facilities, in particular to girl students, are provided in all schools within six months.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra gave the direction on a petition from the Environmental and Consumer Protection Foundation since it was informed that the court’s direction issued in October last was yet to be implemented by many States, which sought further time.

The court had said: “Right to free and compulsory education of children in the age group of six to 14 is part of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21-A. This right cannot be enjoyed unless basic infrastructure is provided by the state. While keeping this in view, we, in our order dated October 11, 2011, gave a direction to the States to provide basic toilet facilities to children, girl children in particular.”

The court had said, “Experience and empirical survey have revealed that parents are reluctant to send their children, particularly girls, to schools where basic toilet facilities are not available. The direct consequence is breach of children’s fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21-A. If it is not possible to provide permanent toilets, then at least temporary toilets are provided on or before November 30, 2011 and permanent toilets be made available by December 31, 2011.”

The Chief Secretaries of all States were directed to ensure that separate permanent toilets for boys and girls were constructed in all schools on or before March 31, 2012. In case it was not possible to construct permanent toilets, at least temporary ones should be made available on or before February 28.

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