The petitioner – a parent – had sought a stay saying that that online classes have exposed the disparities in privilege and access, and because students are exposed to explicit ads online.

Madras HC refuses interim stay on online classes conducted by TN schoolsImage for representation/PTI
Coronavirus Court Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 14:54

The Madras High Court refused to grant an interim stay on online classes conducted by schools in Tamil Nadu for students.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a parent, S Saranya, from Chennai. In her petition, she stated that only 8% of households with young students have computers with internet connection and that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light several structural imbalances between rural and the urban areas, male and female students, and the rich and the poor. She also explained that only the students from privileged houses can access the online classes due to various factors like availability of devices and internet connection.

Saranya also mentioned that the pop-up advertisements during the online classes distract the students, who are led to watch "unwarranted, explicit content" on the internet instead of their classes. “..if governments continue online education without necessary supportive measures, the prevailing disparity in the virtual world could translate into widening educational inequalities among learners,” the petition said.  

Seeking an interim stay on the government allowing schools to conduct online classes without framing proper guidelines as per law, Saranya said that there is no need to begin online classes for students in “such a hurried unregulated manner in such breakneck speed.”

Hearing the petition on Wednesday, a bench consisting of Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Suresh Kumar refused to pass an order to stop the schools from conducting online classes for students. The bench asked the government’s counsel if there have been any regulations around conducting online classes and if the state government is planning to introduce rules to regulate this.

Responding to these questions, the government counsel submitted to the judges that the state government had said that it owns and manages an educational TV channel named ‘Kalvi’ and is preparing to facilitate teaching through it.  

Directing the government to submit a detailed response on the steps taken to protect students from falling prey to obscene ads on the internet while online classes are going on, the bench adjourned the case for June 20.