The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the AAP government on a PIL seeking compliance of the Supreme Court directions on fire safety and building stability norms by private and government schools in the city. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Delhi government and civic bodies on the plea filed by a lawyer and posted the matter for hearing on January 29 next year. The PIL has alleged that the Delhi government and its various authorities do not have an answer to the question of how many schools were complying with the safety norms, and that is why the court has been approached. The public interest litigation (PIL) claims that the Supreme Court had in 2009 issued directions to all the schools in India to have fire safety certificate and stability certificates, but these were not being complied with it. The petitioner, Kush Kalra, alleged that the government's education directorate, the fire services and public works department were being negligent in performing their duty in taking steps to ensure that the schools complied with building stability and fire safety norms. The Delhi-based lawyer claimed that the authorities, including the municipal corporations, were clueless as to whether any school under their jurisdiction was actually complying with the norms. The PIL, filed through counsel Rajesh Gogna, said the petitioner came to know about the lack of data with the authorities on the issue after he raised a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The plea sought directions to local authorities to ensure compliance of the apex court's order as well as the National Building Code of India, claiming that the "safety of school- going students in Delhi is at risk". "School-going children are easy target of any mishap and it must be the duty of the respondents (authorities) to check and identify which schools in Delhi have no fire safety and building stability certificate and the respondents must derecognize those institutions till the time the safety norms are implemented," the petition claimed. The PIL also claimed that around 500 schools responded to the RTI query of the petitioner and "confirmed that they are not complying with the fire safety and building stability measures". It has also sought directions to the authorities to depute their officers to make periodic visits to the schools to check whether the fire safety and building stability measures are being implemented and to apprise the court about it.
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