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The Bench granted two weeks time to all petitioners to carry out amendments in their pleas to challenge the modified Government Order.
While hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Government Order banning online classes for primary school students, the Karnataka High Court was informed by the state today that it has modified its earlier order passed on June 15.
The state government informed a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy that the new order will now allow schools to conduct online classes for all grades for a limited period as an interim arrangement till the expert committee files its report.
It was further submitted that the new order would be issued in alignment with the guidelines on digital education issued by Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
The Court questioned the state on the binding effect of the MHRD guidelines.
"This is not an order of the Government...Whether this has any binding effect?", the Court asked.
Further, the petitioners raised concern over the fact that as per the new order, pre-primary students will only be allowed for one online class in a week, for not more than 30 mins. Moreover, the said interaction will be with parents of the students and not with the students per se.
Thus, the petitioners pushed for a stay of the modified order. The Court responded that for a stay, there has to be a challenge to the order.
In this view, Bench granted two weeks time to all petitioners to carry out amendments in their pleas to challenge the modified Government Order.
During the hearing today, the Court observed,
"What you [state government] are doing is, you are first imposing restriction and then going for the committee. What is the problem for the State?....These [MHRD's] are only guidelines, these are not enforceable guidelines."
The Bench further opined that,
"Unless your expert committee finds something obnoxious in the present pattern, why you are doing all this? The committee has not found that it is obnoxious or it will hurt the students or it will hurt the education system..... Let the present status quo continue. Students are sitting idle at home and now, just see what you are doing. You are saying for first to fifth, only thrice a week, that too for just 30-45 minutes."
Pointing out a different issue, Senior Advocate Uday Holla, appearing for one of the petitioners, submitted that there were private players who were "doing roaring business" in terms of providing online classes for students from LKG till Class 12. Holla further submitted that for private parties, there was no structure as opposed to schools, which are well-regulated.
In this regard, Court asked the state government,
"Private Players are going on. You are restricting regular recognized schools from it [online classes]"
The matter will be next taken up for hearing on July 2.
Last week, the Karnataka High Court had asked the state government to immediately consider allowing the conduct of online classes for primary school students, till a committee of experts submits its report on the issue.