Karnataka HC stays govt order to ban online classes upto Class 5

The High Court said that the state government must make infrastructural arrangements to ensure students in rural areas can also attend online classes.
Karnataka HC stays govt order to ban online classes upto Class 5
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The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday issued an interim order stating that online classes cannot be banned for students between LKG and Class 5. The High Court stayed the government’s orders dated June 15 and June 27, which embargoed online learning on Wednesday. The Karnataka government had earlier in June banned online classes for children upto Class 5, stating that it is awaiting an expert committee’s report on the same. 

The High Court also ordered that schools cannot make online education compulsory and cannot charge extra fees for online classes. “Our order should not be construed to mean that students who do not opt for online education should be deprived of their normal education as and when the schools are able to start education,” Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Abhay Sreenivas Oka observed.

A petition was filed in the High Court by Anumita Sharma and several others earlier in June seeking to revoke the ban on online classes. While reading out the interim order, Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka observed that the ban on online learning violates Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which states that right to education is a fundamental right.

"Prima facie we are of the view that both orders of June 15 and June 27, encroached upon the Fundamental Right conferred by Article 21 and 21A of the Constitution of India,” Live Law quoted Chief Justice Oka as saying.

Chief Justice Oka said that the state government would have to make infrastructural arrangements so that students from all sections of the society can attend online classes.

“The fact that the state is not able to extend online education to a certain category of schools is not grounds for so-called elite schools to not extend online education to its students. In fact, the state government will have to take appropriate steps to create infrastructure and facility so that online education can be extended to students in rural areas,” Chief Justice Oka said.

The state government had submitted to the court that online classes were banned as the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences had submitted a report, which had discouraged online education of LKG and UKG students. The High Court observed that it is difficult to support the government’s decision to ban online education based on NIMHANS’s report as the report itself does not call for a ban.

The state government later submitted to the court that the expert committee to study the feasibility of online learning had suggested online classes for students between lower KG and Class 5 but for a limited period of time. The state government also submitted that “Pragyata Guidelines” issued by the Union Ministry of Human Resources’ would have to be followed.

"If said guidelines are read as a whole they do not intend to put an embargo on online learning, especially when there is a complete ban on opening of schools till July 31,” Chief Justice Oka said.

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