22 Jan 2021 6:56 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Government of Kerala to permit re-opening and functioning of Schools and Technical Educational Institutions. The Bench of Justice P. V. Asha specifically observed, "There is no reason for any doubt that Government would not come forward with orders for re-opening of the Schools as and when the situation...
The Kerala High Court recently dismissed a plea seeking a direction to the Government of Kerala to permit re-opening and functioning of Schools and Technical Educational Institutions.
The Bench of Justice P. V. Asha specifically observed,
"There is no reason for any doubt that Government would not come forward with orders for re-opening of the Schools as and when the situation becomes normal/ ensuring the protection of the health of the children."
Plea before the Court
The Petitioner, whose daughter is a student of 9th standard in a Government Higher Secondary School, stated that the order issued by Government on 24th November 2020 by which other educational institutions except schools and technical education institutions were allowed to function is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
It was next contended by the petitioner that the students are prevented from meeting their teachers and clear their doubts or seek assistance for studying their portions.
It was further submitted that the students have to rely on unpredictable internet connections for pursuing their education and they are left with less equipped means to prepare for year-end exams for the promotion to the next academic year.
On the other hand, the Government Pleader pointed out that the Government has been issuing orders from time to time taking stock of the situation.
It was informed to the Court that classes for 10th and 12th standard of the schools under the General Educational Department as well as students of the Colleges have already been permitted to function with strict restrictions, that too in different batches and different timings for the students of the very same class.
The Court noted that the Government had issued orders closing Schools due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the larger interest of public which includes students community also.
Further, the Court said,
"Right from April, 2020, orders are being issued by the Central and State Governments in relaxation of orders on lock down, having regard to the situation prevailing in the country, based on the opinion of the experts in the field."
The Court also observed that both the central and State government are striving for the revival of the pre-covid state, step by step and so the contention of the petitioner relying on Article 14 of the Constitution of India is absolutely untenable.
Importantly, the Court remarked
"I am of the view that when the authorities, who are equipped with the expertise in these matters are issuing orders relaxing the restrictions at regular intervals, a decision as to when the schools can start functioning in its full swing, protecting the interest of all concerned would 7 also be issued by them, in accordance with the prevailing conditions."
In view of the above-said observations, the Court opined that that interference of the Court under Article 226 was absolutely unwarranted and thus, the writ petition was dismissed.
In related news, the Madras High Court on Thursday (21st January) refrained from issuing a direction to the State government to permit schools across the State to commence physical classes for all students as the threat of COVID-19 had not died down completely and the vaccination drive had just begun.
Last month, the Karnataka High Court had 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 had 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."
Last month, the Allahabad High Court had expressed concern over re-opening of schools in the State of UP amid the ongoing pandemic. It observed that there is a risk of teachers and/ or students being infected if the health protocols are not followed properly.
Case title - Jacob John v. State of Kerala and Another [WP(C).No.29032 OF 2020(D)]
Click Here To Download Judgment