Expressing a prima facie view that the state could not have by passing an order prevented schools across all boards from conducting online classes for students of Lower KG to Standard V, the Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the state government to consider permitting online classes for certain hours.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy while hearing a bunch of matters challenging the ban order, issued on June 15, said "Before taking a decision experts committee should have been consulted. You (State) have after issuing the order appointed the committee. This is like putting the cart before the horse."
Expressing serious displeasure on the decision the court said "Some schools want to impart education online, some students want to take it that way, what is the problem of the government?."
Stating that the government is completely shutting out education for the children. It said "Government is under the impression that children sitting at home are not using the internet?. Let the schools run it (online classes) for a few hours in a day without making it compulsory for everyone."
Advocate Pradeep Nayak appearing for one of the petitioners argued that the order passed by the state was ex-facie illegal and online education cannot be banned by the government. The bench to some extent agreed with his submissions, it observed "Somebody (schools) wants to give education how can the state stop it." Senior Advocate Jayna Kothari appearing in another petition argued that the central government in its lockdown notifications have urged for conducting online classes.
Government pleader Vikram Huilgol sought adjournment in the matter till Monday on the grounds that the Advocate General would be appearing in the matters. A memo was filed by him stating that the expert committee appointed by the state government to make recommendations had sought extension of time, till June 30.
The bench said "Let the committee take its own sweet time. On the last hearing date when we granted time we had expected the state to come out with a solution." The court has now posted the matters for further hearing on June 29. The court has till then not granted any interim relief.
As per an order issued on June 15, by the State Primary and Secondary Education department under section 7 of the Karnataka Education Act, the online classes have been banned in the state. The order also says that a committee headed by senior academician Prof M K Sridhar will look into the scientific ways of offering online education to kids between Class 6 to 10 according to their age.