Delhi High Court has issued notice in a plea seeking court's direction to the Delhi Government to ensure that children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are provided with free laptops/ipads and high speed internet for ensuring their access to online classes conducted by schools.
The Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula has issued notice to the Central Government, Delhi Government, Central Board for Secondary Education, and private schools such as Sanskriti School and The Heritage.
Filed by an NGO called Justice For All, the plea wants Delhi Government to remove all the barriers that children belonging to EWS group or b Disadvantaged Group (DG) are facing with regards to accessing online study materials and lectures classes conducted through video conferencing.
While citing section 3(2) of Right to Education Act, the Petitioner claims that:
'The respondents are duty bound to ensure the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any ground. The children having equipments are getting education and EWS kids having no means are sitting idle at home which prevents them from getting education.'
It is argued by the Petitioner that the advisories and circulars issued by CBSE and MHRD, praising the online means of education, failed to acknowledge the fact that there are children who come from families that cannot afford logistical tools required to have an access to online education.
The Petitioner further submits that under section 7(c) of the RTE Act, a duty is imposed on the appropriate government that the children belonging to weaker section and disadvantage group are not
discriminated against and prevented from completing elementary education on any ground and section 7(d) imposes the duty to provide proper infrastructure and learning equipments.
Even though the RTE Rules do not cover laptops and tablets, the Petitioner argues, the same should be given wider interpretation considering the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID19 pandemic.
Therefore, it is the case of the Petitioner that various provisions of the Right to Education Act, as well as the judgments of the Supreme Court, impose a duty on the government as well as the private schools to ensure that access to free and equitable education is provided to students belonging to EWS of DG sections.
In light of this, the Petitioner seeks court's direction to the Delhi Government to ensure that its duties under the RTE Act are exercised and all the barriers on the way of EWS students getting online education is removed.
The court will next take up the matter on June 10.
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