The Delhi High Court Friday asked the Centre and the AAP government to respond to a PIL seeking directions to them to provide free laptops, tablets or mobile phones to poor kids so that they can access classes online during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula issued notices to the Centre, the Delhi government, the municipal corporations and 10 private unaided schools here seeking their stand on the plea by an NGO, Justice for All, by June 10 — the next date of hearing.
Delhi Government standing counsel Ramesh Singh accepted the notice on behalf of the Education Department.
In its plea filed through advocate Khagesh Jha, the NGO has contended that the private unaided schools’ decision to conduct classes via video conferencing would affect over 50,000 students belonging to the economically weaker sections (EWS) and cannot afford laptops, phones and high-speed internet service to attend the classes.
The petition has contended that not providing the laptop, phone and high speed internet, free of cost, to the poor kids would amount to a violation of their fundamental right to education guaranteed under the Constitution.
“The children belonging to economically weaker section (EWS) or disadvantaged group (DG) category are protected under Article 21A of Constitution for getting equitable quality education and the state is duty bound to remove all financial barriers coming in the way of getting quality education in the same manner as their counterpart fee paying students are getting in the school,” the NGO has contended in its plea.
It has claimed that when the private schools started online classes through the video conferencing for fee-paying students, those belonging to EWS category could not join the online classes “due to the financial barriers in purchase of equipment like laptop, android mobile phone, I-Pad and high speed internet connection”. It has further contended that problem of EWS children was not considered while taking such a decision and thus, they are sitting at idle at home.