The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the Maharashtra government not to initiate any "coercive action" against schools which have started online classes for students of class 2 and below. The High Court has also ordered the state to spell out whether students of class 2 and below should be made to sit for online classes or not.
The order passed by a bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Nitin Borkar grants relief to both parents as well as schools, at least till August 7, when the state is expected to clarify its stand on the issue.
The bench was dealing with a plea filed by Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) challenging the decision of the government's education department excluding students from pre-primary to class 2 from online classes.
Notably, state education minister Varsha Gaikwad, while excluding these students, had said that they were "too young" to learn digitally. The ministry has plans to teach these students via TV or radio.
However, the PTA forum took exception to the state's decision and argued that the government has infringed on the fundamental rights of these students. "Our main argument is that by virtue of this decision, the state has deprived these students of their fundamental right to education. The state must allow these students, especially when parents and schools are ready to subject their children to online classes, then the government has no role in it," said advocate Swaraj Jadhav, appearing for the PTA forum.
Having heard the contentions, the bench deemed it appropriate to not stay the online classes, which some schools have already begun.
"Let the government file its affidavit and in the meanwhile, no coercive action shall be taken by the state against the schools for providing online teaching to pupils belonging to class-II and below, who are willing to avail of such teaching," the judges said while ordering the government to spell out its stand.
The judges further noted that some parents had objected to online learning. "Similarly, no coercive action shall be taken by the schools against those parents who are not willing to force their children (pupils) studying in class-II and below to avail of availing online classes," Justice Bhuyan said in his orders.
The bench will take up the matter for further hearing on August 7.