(1.) School Managing Committee of Amaramunda Govt. Primary School, Amaramunda, as the petitioner, has filed W.P.(C) No. 27401 of 2020 seeking following relief:-
"a writ of mandamus or an appropriate writ be issued quashing the impugned order dated 16.09.2020 passed by the Block Education Officer, Agalpur (Duduka) under Annexure-2 so far as it relates to Merger of petitioner's School, i.e. Amaramunda Govt. Primary School and the said School may be allowed to run in Amaramunda village without any hindrance and the Govt. Notification dated 11.03.2020 under Annexure-3 which is contrary to the Odisha Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010 may also be quashed."
Lilly Samal and thirty-seven others, as the petitioners, have filed W.P.(C) No. 11704 of 2020 seeking following relief:-
"The petitioner therefore, humbly prays that this Hon'ble Court may graciously be pleased to admit the writ application, issue a Rule NISI calling upon the opposite parties to show cause as to why the petitioners' school Rahala Primary School shall not be merged with the Rahala Upper Primary School which is situated within one campus and as to why the Rahala Primary School will be merged with the UGUP school, if the opposite parties failed to show cause or shown insufficient cause the rule may be made absolute against the opposite parties."
School Managing Committee of Basupur Primary School has filed W.P.(C) No. 30808 of 2020 seeking following relief:-
"It is therefore, humbly prayed that this Hon'ble Court may graciously be pleased to issue rule NISI calling upon the Opp.Parties to show cause as to why their decision taken under notification dtd. 22.10.2020 under annexure-2 and order dated 05.11.2020 under annexure-4 to consolidate/merge Basupur Primary School with Inkerdia Primary School, shall not be quashed.
And if the Opp.Parties fail to show cause or show insufficient cause, make the said rule absolute by issuing a writ of certiorarified (sic) mandamus quashing the order directing merging of Basupur Primary School with Inkerdia Primary School under annexure-2 & 4."
Siddhartha Sankar Swain and three others have filed W.P.(C) No. 2600 of 2021 seeking following relief:-
"Under the circumstances, the Petitioners therefore, pray that notice of 'Rule Nisi' be issued to the Opposite Parties calling upon them to show cause as to why the list of schools proposed for consolidation under Soro Block for the year 2020- 21 to the extent of Sl. No. 1 (Aharpur Parsurampur school) shall not be quashed.
And upon the Opposite Parties not showing cause or failing to show adequate cause, the said Rule be made absolute and a writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ as may be deemed fit and proper be issued quashing the list of schools proposed for consolidation under Soro Block for the year 2020-21 to the extent of Sl. No.1 (Aharpur Parsurampur school)."
Chairman, SMC of Khirang Primary School, as the petitioner, has filed W.P.(C) No. 8275 of 2021 seeking following relief:-
"Issue Rule NISI calling upon to the Opp.parties to show cause as to why the impugned order dated 02.02.2021 under Annexure-1 shall not be quashed and the Opp.parties may not be prohibited to insist upon the merger of petitioner's school as it is not coming within the ambit of policy of rationalization;
And if the Opp.parties do not show cause or show insufficient cause the impugned order of the B.E.O. dt.2.2.21 under Annexure-1 may be quashed, and an appropriate writ may be passed prohibits Opp.parties not to insist upon the merger of petitioner's school as it is not coming within the ambit of policy rationalization."
Biranchi Narayan Sahoo and two others have filed W.P.(C) No. 11603 of 2021 seeking following relief:-
"i) The order vide No.1247/SMR dated 18.01.2021 passed by the Opp.Party No.1 under Annexure-10 and the office order dated 23.10.2018 issued by the Opp.Party No.6 under Annexure-2 shall not be set aside/quashed, as the same is illegal, arbitrary and contrary to the Notification dated 14.05.2018 under Annexure-1 as well as Notification vide No.5379/SME dated 07.03.2020,
ii) The Opp.Parties shall not be directed, not to merge the Government Primary & Upper Primary School (Satellite School) with Bapuji Bidyapitha, Dholamara (Lead School),
iii) The action of the Opp.Parties shall not be declared as illegal, arbitrary and no nest in the eye of law."
SMC of Kantapada Primary School, as the petitioner, has filed W.P.(C) No. 14289 of 2021 seeking following prayer:-
"Under the above circumstances, it is therefore humbly prayed that this Hon'ble Court may be graciously pleased to issue a writ in the nature of writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, direction or order by quashing the notification made by the opposite party no.1 dated 26.02.2021 under Annexure-5, so far as it relates to the petitioner's school, which has been reflected at Sl. No.79 is concerned since the petitioner's school has been enlisted in clear violation of the guidelines under Annexures-1,2 and 4 of the writ application.
And this Hon'ble Court be further pleased to direct the opposite parties 1 to 6 to allow the petitioner's institution, i.e. Kantapada Primary School to function as usual without any interruption and by allowing it to take admission of the students.
And this Hon'ble Court be pleased to pass any further order/orders or direction/directions as this Hon'ble Court deems fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case."
(2.) On a careful reading of the reliefs, quoted hereinbefore, it is emerged that in all these writ petitions the petitioners essentially seek to quash the notification no. 5465/SME., dated 11.03.2020 issued by the Government of Odisha in School & Mass Education Department, pursuant to the policy framed vide notification no.10442/SME dated 14.05.2018, for rationalization and consolidation of schools under School & Mass Education (S&ME) Department, as well as the consequential office memorandum no. 5538/SME., dated 11.03.2020 for implementation of guidelines for the policy of rationalization and consolidation of schools. Therefore, all these writ petitions have been heard together, along with other batch of cases, and are disposed of by this common judgment which will govern in all the cases.
(3.) In course of hearing, Mr. S. Parida, learned Senior Standing Counsel appearing for the State contended that since the notification no. 5465/SME., dated 11.03.2020 and subsequent office memorandum no. 5538 dated 11.03.2020 have been issued pursuant to the policy decision of the Government taken vide notification no.10442/SME dated 14.05.2018, thereby, to justify such policy decision counter affidavit has been filed by opposite party no.1 in W.P.(C) No. 27401 of 2020 and the same is adopted in all the cases.;