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Consider Opening Schools In A Phased Manner Than Taking A Uniform Policy For Entire State: Karnataka High Court To State

Mustafa Plumber
22 Dec 2020 3:45 AM GMT
Consider Opening Schools In A Phased Manner Than Taking  A Uniform Policy For Entire State: Karnataka High Court To State
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The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the state to consider opening up schools on a regular basis in taluks having less number of Covid-19 cases, rather than adopting a uniform policy for the entire state. A division bench of Justice B V NAGARATHNA and Justice NATARAJ RANGASWAMY said "State to apply its mind on whether in phased manner schools could be opened on regular basis...

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The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the state to consider opening up schools on a regular basis in taluks having less number of Covid-19 cases, rather than adopting a uniform policy for the entire state.

A division bench of Justice B V NAGARATHNA and Justice NATARAJ RANGASWAMY said "State to apply its mind on whether in phased manner schools could be opened on regular basis having regard to the number of covid-19 cases in a particular taluk, rather than adopting a uniform policy for the entire state."

It added "We (judiciary) have also gone district wise. From 10 now we have courts functioning in 17 districts. So go taluk wise, if cases are less in a particular taluk open schools in that taluk, on a regular basis, rather than saying throughout the state no schools."

The bench during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by A. A. Sanjeev Narrain, Arvind Narrain and Murali Mohan, directed the government to file a status report with regard to steps taken for the admission of children to Standard I, on completion of their stint with Aanganwadi's. State to also report about steps taken to ensure that children have taken readmission to higher class, during this period of pandemic.

Justice Nagarathna said "Aforesaid directions are issued having regards to the fact that there was closure of schools from March 2020, due to covid-19. There is no regular functioning of school till date. The reasons as to why these directions are issued is in order to ascertain whether children during this period have been forced into child labour or child marriages or have been victims of trafficking."

The bench added "In usual course they (children) would have been probably, but during this pandemic anganwadi is also closed, school is also closed. The parent will tell the child or just keep the 6 year old child at home or he may take the child to the field, because school is closed, with no admission in the schools."

The state government filed a memo before the court stating that pursuant to directions issued by this court on December 4, a decision has been taken by state government to recommence the Vidya Gama program, for standards I to X, students in all schools across the state. It was also informed that a circular dated December 16 is issued pursuant to the government order that the Vidya gama program will re-commence from Jan 1 2021, in private and government schools across the state.

Senior Advocate Harish Narasappa appearing for petitioner submitted that as per the order of the court the state government was to raise money for purchase tablets and laptops. No formal appeal is made by the government to corporates.

Following which the court noted "By our order dated December 4, we had also observed that the state could make an appeal for funding its program of education through Vidya Gama through the mechanism of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). AGA submits that no formal appeal has been made as such subsequently to the order."

It added "We think that state can make a specific appeal for aid to be sought through the mechanism of CSR, as envisaged under section 135 of Companies Act, so that the discontinuity in education of children or disruption thereof is mitigated, if there is good response to the appeal made by the state. Hence the state to take steps in this regard and report by the next date of hearing." The bench opined that this was in the larger context of 'out of school children'.

The petition states that the respondents in not providing adequate online resources to school children prior to resumption of online classes, is violative of Article 21-A read with the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, 2009 ("RTE Act") read with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010 ("RTE Rules") read with the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012 ("Karnataka RTE Rules").

It seeks directions to immediately formulate a plan of action to ensure the procurement and disbursal of low-cost laptops, tablets, and any other digital resources to school children belonging to the disadvantaged and economically weaker sections to allow them attend online classes.

The matter will be next heard on January 18, 2021.


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