Kerala High Court on Wednesday passed an interim order restraining schools from levying additional fees from students for holding virtual classes due to the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown. A single bench of Justice CS Dias also referred to the petition to a division bench, in view of the “substantial public interest involved”.
The bench also made reference to the suicide of 14-year-old Devika allegedly due to her inability to join online classes owing to the lack of a smartphone or a working TV in the house.
“It is disheartening to learn that a student allegedly took away her life due to lack of access to the internet for attending virtual classes. The right to education is sacrosanct in the Constitution of India and is the mandate under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009,” the court said.
The bench observed that several states have ordered that students should not be denied education for want of payment of fees during this pandemic period.
The court passed the interim order while hearing a petition filed by two students — Sreelakshmi S and Dhanvin Pillai — challenging the decision of their schools to demand payment of fees even “without starting normal teaching methods in the school or even without providing quality virtual classroom teaching or online classes”.
The petition, filed through advocates Manu Ramachandran, M Kiranlal, R Rajesh, TS Sarath and Sameer Nair, also raised the grievance that the State government has not issued proper guidelines for online classes.