The Karnataka High Court on Friday has asked the state government to consider permitting optional online education only for certain hours. The court made the observation while hearing a public interest litigation filed on June 10 by Anumitha Sharma and several others, challenging the ban on online classes for students between LKG and Class 5.
The case was being heard by Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Abhay Sreenivas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy.
The government had earlier in June also issued an order that schools cannot charge extra for holding online classes.
The Karnataka government had cited issues regarding screen time for young children, after getting recommendations from an expert committee from National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), who cited WHO guidelines that children below age 10 should not have more than one hour of screen time.
The high court, however, observed, "Is the government under the impression that children sitting at home are not using the internet? Let the schools run it without making it compulsory."
Online Classes ban matter, court says "Is the Government under impression that children sitting at home are not using internet. Let the schools run it without making it compulsory."— Mustafa Plumber (@plumbermushi) June 26, 2020
The Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka also observed that the government was not following a proper procedure. He said, “Before taking a decision, the committee should have been consulted. This is like putting a cart before the horse.” He further observed that "Some schools want to impart online education so if students want to take it. What Is the problem with the government? You are completely shutting out education."
He further stated that the court is of the view that the government could not have passed a blanket order preventing online learning.
The state government sought time until Monday, June 29, to respond to the court’s observations.
A memo submitted by the state government to the court said that the expert committee appointed for submitting recommendations on whether to allow online classes sought more time to submit their report and is expected to be submitted by June 30.
"We expect the government to come out with a solution immediately. Until the committee submits a report and the state takes a decision, the state will consider permitting online education for certain hours,” Chief Justice Abhay Oka observed.
The next hearing has been posted to June 29.