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Counsel for the petitioners informed the Court that intially, the ban was only for Classes 1-5. Now, the new notification regulates time for online classes till Class 10.
The state government today informed the Karnataka High Court that the Expert Committee set up to give recommendations pertaining to conduct of online classes for students amid the COVID-19 lockdown has completed its deliberations.
The report is likely to be submitted by Monday, July 6.
The Court was informed of this new development while hearing a batch of pleas challenging a Government Order banning online classes for primary school students in the state.
Unsatisfied with this submission, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy said that the process would take a long time.
Counsel for the petitioners made a wide range of arguments before the Court in favour of conducting online classes for primary school students.
Senior Counsel Uday Holla had submitted that the Karnataka Education Act is not applicable to CBSE schools. He also stated that the Government Order was not applicable to schools following CBSE and ICSE curriculum. Further, as far as international schools are concerned, they are affiliated to the International Baccalaureate (IB), Switzerland, Holla contended.
It was further submitted that as per the Unlock-1 guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry, it is specifically said that online classes for schools and colleges are permitted.
Another line of argument was that under the GO, only schools were not permitted to conduct classes. Holla informed the Court that unregulated private players were continuing to conduct classes.
He also cited the examples of Kerala and Delhi, where the governments themselves had taken the initiative to conduct online classes for students.
Advocate Pradeep Nayak, appearing for another petitioner, argued that Section 7 of the State Act was only a regulating provision and the same does not allow a ban on education in this manner.
Nayak went on to submit that the GO is against the Right to Education under Article 21A. Further, it was stated that there is no intelligible differentia between schools and private players, as only the former were precluded from conducting online classes for students.
Adding on, Nayak stated that intially, the ban was only for classes 1-5. Now, the new notification regulates time for online classes till Class 10. Further, the government has not provided any justification for coming up with the notification, he submitted.
"The state order is very vague as there is no definition of what an online class is. Is it a Zoom class, a pre-recorded class by teachers or a face-to-face interactive session?" Nayak queried.
Next to submit arguments was Advocate Promod Nair, who concurred with the submissions made by Holla. He added that even in the case of SSLC schools, the government could not impose ban of online classes by issuing an executive order.
Due to paucity of time, no order was passed in the matter. The hearing has been adjourned to July 6.
As the hearing drew a close, the Court directed Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi to place on record the NIMHANS report that the state government was relying on.
Earlier, the State government had submitted that NIMHANS had opined that children below class 5 should not be taught for 8 hours a day via online classes.