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What is govt. policy on e-classes by private schools, asks HC

Does the State government have a clear policy on private schools in the State holding online classes, the Telangana High Court sought to know on Wednesday.

Hearing a PIL plea challenging the conduct of online classes by private schools, a bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy wanted to know if the government wanted to permit it or not. The bench issued notices to Chief Secretary, Director of School Education and District Educational Officers of Hyderabad and Rangareddy and the Telangana Registered Schools Management Association on the matter.

They were directed to file counter affidavits by July 3. The PIL petition was filed by Hyderabad Schools Parents Association represented by its joint secretary K. Venkat Sainath. The association contended that conducting online classes by private schools amounted to violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as the classes would subject the students to severe physical and mental stress.

It also constituted violation of Article 21A of the Constitution which guaranteed the right to free and compulsory education. The petitioner also told the court that the private schools were collecting admission fee, term fee, development charges, library fee and extra-curricular activities from the parents of students. This was in violation of the GO no. 46 issued by the State government on April 21, 2020. As per that GO, the schools were directed to collect only monthly fee from students, the petitioner said.

While the Special Government Pleader Sanjeev Kumar, appearing for government, sought time for a detailed reply on the matter, the bench wanted to know what the government’s stand was in permitting the private schools to go for online classes. Mr. Kumar informed the court that already DEOs of some districts issued notices stating that online classes was not permitted.

Were the notices confined to some districts or that decision was uniform across the State, the bench asked him. The CJ observed that a single judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court had already given guidelines on conducting online classes for school students. When a government counsel informed the Centre had already issued guidelines on the subject, the bench asked if they were binding on all the States.

“If a family has three children and two of them go to different schools, how can they afford to have two electronic gadgets to attend online classes,” the bench asked the government counsel. It said the government should come out with a clear policy on the matter.

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