The High Court of Karnataka on Friday heard the writ petitions challenging the ban imposed by Karnataka government on online classes.
The petitioners argued that the absolute ban was violative of right to education under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.
The State government informed the Karnataka High Court that the expert committee constituted to recommend scientific ways of offering online education is likely to submit its report to the state government by Monday.
Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi submitted "The expert committee has completed its deliberations and they are likely to place its report before the state government by Monday. After that, a decision will be taken considering the suggestions. In the meanwhile, we have made an interim arrangement."
By the modified order of June 27, the state allowed online classes for students of Lower KG to Standard V for limited hours following the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Senior Advocate Uday Holla, appearing for one of the petitioners, opened his arguments challenging the ban orders issued on June 15 and the modified order allowing partial online classes to be conducted by schools on June 27.
He argued that "The Karnataka Education Act, is not applicable to CBSE/ICSE as it is an All India Syllabus and the state government has no powers. The Ministry of Home affairs on June 29, has also passed a resolution allowing online education. On the face of it, the order is illegal."
Holla relied on the guidelines issued by the Central Government while allowing Unlock 2, which stated that schools, colleges and educational institutions shall remain closed but online education and distance learning shall be permitted and encouraged.
He said "As regards CBSE/ICSE, the order is not applicable. As regards international schools, they are affiliated to the International Baccalaureate, Switzerland. All these embassies send their children to these international schools."
Mentioning that the State of Kerala itself is doing it (online classes) and Delhi Government has also come out with guidelines for online classes, Holla said :
"COVID-19 will go on for six more months and if children are not educated, God help us. Across the globe everyone is conducting online classes. Only our state is not allowing it. Look at the plight of our children and what will happen to them."
To a question posed by the court as to whether online education could be made compulsory, Holla said "Ultimately parents and school and teachers will do what is necessary. We (Karnataka) are said to the Silicon valley of India and if we don't do it who will."
Advocate Pradeep Nayak, appearing for another petitioner, argued that "government has no powers to pass an order like this. Under section 7 of the Act, state does not have power to pass such orders even against schools not affiliated to CBSE and ICSE board. Section 7 is only an enabling provision which allows them to regulate and does not allow them to ban the education."
He added that the order passed is manifestly arbitrary.
He concluded by saying that "State has not given any justification for passing the order of ban and it is vilolative of Article 21A of the Constitution of India and to the act it needs to be struck down."
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy, due to paucity of time, posted the matter for further hearing on Monday. It asked the Advocate General to place on record and circulate the NIMHANS report if it is in writing before the court and to the petitioners. Navadgi said he would send the report by email to the petitioners.