In a bizarre incident in a school in Kerala, a girl and a boy were expelled after the boy hugged the girl — his junior — for having won a prize at an arts competition in school.
Interestingly, the embrace — which the students described as a congratulatory hug — did not go down well with the authorities of the St Thomas Central School at Mukkolain Kerla, nor was it appreciated by the Kerala High Court.
The HC ruled in favour of the school rather than the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which had requested the school to take back the two suspended students.
The school had initially suspended the students, but later expelled them.
Here's what happened
The boy — a Class 12 student — hugged the girl from Class 11 July 21, an act that was witnessed by a teacher. The duo was then taken to the vice-principal's office for their action.
The school refused to hear to any explanation offered by the students.
"Apart from a friendly gesture shown to a friend, nothing more should have been attributed. The teacher didn't even ask us for any explanation. She saw us hugging and started shouting at us. We were immediately taken to the vice-principal's room. We waited there for half an hour, and on her arrival, I explained the incident to her," said the boy.
"The vice-principal looked convinced and warned us against repeating such actions," the boy recalled, adding that his class teacher was however determined to not forgive them.
Court rules in favour of school
As matters escalated, the school even scanned the two children's Instagram accounts to collect "evidence".
The school showed the children's parents screenshots of a few personal photos of the duo, which the boy's father described as infringement of privacy.
When the children were expelled, their guardians approached the state Child Rights Commission, while the school approached the Kerala HC with the matter.
Interestingly, even the court felt that the children and their behaviour would tarnish the school's reputation.
"I find that various photographs were posted on Instagram in various compromising positions, and if it had the effect of publicity, the issue hampers the reputation of the school," Justice Shaji P Chaly told India TV.
Justice Chally added that the school management's action was not illegal or unfair.