JUSTICE FOR ALL v. Govt of NCT of Delhi & Ors.
Delhi High Court, W.P.(C) 3004/2020 & CM APPLS. 10415-10417/2020, 10675/2020, 12235-12236/2020
The petitioner argued that the present writ has to be allowed to implement the the right to free and compulsory education created under Article 21A of the Constitution of India read with Sections 3 and 8 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, in its letter and spirit. It was contended on the part of the petitioner that Section 12(2) of the Right to Education Act (RTE) makes provision for and defines the extent of reimbursement to the private unaided schools as defined under Section 2(n)(iv), which are providing free and compulsory education in terms of Section 12(1)(c). However, he submitted that the proviso to Section 12(2) stipulates that if schools are prepaid in terms of concessional land or other facilities, the said schools are not entitled to reimbursement. He also argued that Section 8(d) of the RTE Act, 2009 casts a duty upon the State/GNCTD to provide all the requisite infrastructure including school building, teaching staff as well as learning equipment, which includes the gadgets required to participate in virtual classrooms/online education.
The court declared that the private unaided schools under Section 12(1)(c) and Government schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas under Section 3(2) of RTE Act, 2009 are directed to provide equipment of optimum configuration which is sufficient to enable EWS / DG students to get access to online learning. The private schools which are providing Synchronous Face-to-Face Real Time Online Education are the very same neighborhood schools which satisfy all the requirements of RTE Act, 2009. Hence, the teaching through online means is in accordance with RTE Act, 2009 requirements. Therefore, both the requirements of Article 21A and Section 3 of RTE Act, 2009 are clearly fulfilled even in respect of education being imparted through online means. As online learning facility is nothing but a virtual classroom, i.e. simulation of a physical classroom by replacing dissemination of instructions in direct physical presence by virtual dissemination, by not providing the required indispensable equipment to the EWS / DG category students (who, otherwise, are not in a position to buy /source such equipment from their own means) the schools are putting a financial barrier qua such students and thereby preventing them from opening the link and pursuing and completing their elementary education in the present pandemic at par with other students in the same class. The court also constituted a committee to identify gadget(s)/equipment(s) taking into account all relevant factors including their utility, ease of operation, cost, maintenance, charges, life of the gadget(s), reputation of the manufacturer, child lock etc. within two weeks from its constitution.