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Karnataka online classes ban

Karnataka High Court stays govt online classes ban for LKG-class V

July 8, 2020

The Karnataka High Court has issued an interim order stating that the state government cannot ban online classes for LKG to class 5 students and stayed the Karnataka government’s orders dated June 15 and June 27, which first banned and then limited online learning for LKG-classes V.

The court led by Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka ruled that the ban on online learning violates Article 21 and 21A of the Constitution of India, which states that right to education is a fundamental right. It also stated that there is no material available to show that online classes would be harmful to children and that the NIMHANS letter relied on by the government refers to WHO opinion which does not also say that online education is harmful to children.

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.

Moreover Chief Justice Oka directed the state to take steps to extend online education to students who are not enrolled in elite schools, especially government schools, and ensure that they are not deprived of their right to education. “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 also submitted to the court that the expert committee to study the feasibility of online learning had recommended online classes for students of KG-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.

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.

Also read: Online education: Expert committee submits final report to Karnataka government

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