Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to issue guidelines to be scrupulously followed by various educational institutions/schools in the country when they take groups of students on excursions or tours.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justices P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam passed this order on a petition filed by Ajay Kumar Shah and others, who were aggrieved by lack of guidelines for educational institutions when they took students for tours and when some of them were involved in accidents there. They reported several incidents and alleged that students in groups who visited the beaches were not being given sufficient protection.

Taking note of the draft guidelines given by the petitioners, the Bench asked the Centre to frame these guidelines. It said: “The first and foremost, such institutions/schools/colleges/organisations should be made accountable for the safety of students participating in such tours. These guidelines should be circulated to all schools/colleges/ educational/other organisations and adopted by all to be followed/adhered to compulsorily.”

Whenever any study tour/excursion is planned, all such schools and colleges should write to the Ministry of Tourism giving details of the trip/place/locale/number of students etc. and accordingly, the said Ministry should call for opinion on the do’s and don’ts from experts/local authorities (of the place to be visited) and over those specific guidelines to the school/college concerned.”

“If any study tour is part of curriculum and is compulsory, then the work involved in it has to be mentioned in a circular and the consent of at least one parent has to be signified in writing. If a tour is optional, that fact has to be brought to parent’s notice and specific consent to be taken from one parent at least, irrespective [of] whether the child/student is a major or minor; When students are taken to risky areas like “killer beach” etc., for every 15 students at least one teacher should be in-charge of them.”

“The students should not be taken to the risk area after 7 p.m. If they have been already taken to the risk area, the in-charge teacher should bring them back from the risk area at 7 p.m. or earlier. If students are taken to a beach for swimming or even to be in that area, for every group of 15 students, at least one lifeguard has to be arranged. The charges for one lifeguard may be collected from the students in advance proportionately. It should be a rule not to allow such tours to be conducted during monsoon season when the risk of high tide is the maximum in places like Goa.”