Karnataka’s high court stay on the ban of online classes
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The article is written by Stuti Jain, from Vivekananda institute of professional studies pursuing B.B.A.LLB (Hons) Course. This article explains about the stay on the ban on the online classes by the Karnataka government.


Schools and educational institutes across the globe have been closed on the account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the rapid spread of such an unexpected disease, the world is shaken up. No country can jeopardize the health of their citizens, especially their young generation students. In the wake of this unexpected situation, PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020. As a result, the daily life of everyone came to a halt. The students were the ones most affected by the pandemic since everything else could be delayed, but in the life of a student, each year matters significantly! The transition of the studies of online schooling hasn’t been easy. The government orders regarding the schools and the examinations have been quite unstable as well. The online classes, whether it should be allowed, or not has been a matter of controversy for the governments themselves. The Indian government has to consider many aspects before allowing or disallowing such type of teaching. 

The series of events by Karnataka government

  1. In the approx end of January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the outbreak of COVID-19 is a global emergency. On January 30, India reported its first case of COVID from the state of Kerala. The Kerala government announced the closure of the schools, colleges and other such educational issues on March 13. 
  2. On April 14, Modi further extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3. 
  3. On April 15, The Ministry of Home Affairs released Consolidated Guidelines, which supported distance and online teaching. The schools were directed to remain close. 
  4. On April 18, the Karnataka Government released a circular, allowing online classes. Also, within the circular, it ordered the schools not to collect fees from the students, even for the online classes. However, on April 24, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education released a new order, claiming that schools can only collect the fees from the parent “willing” to pay the fees i.e., voluntary payment of fees The parents shouldn’t be forced to pay the fees. And such fees should be used to pay the teachers. 
  5. A sudden shock was given by the Karnataka government, when on June 10, it suspended all the online classes for students till class 5th. This ban was issued across the state under Section 7 of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983. This was a blanket ban, which extended to the pre-recorded videos and audio lectures too. The ministry claims that it summoned a meeting with various experts like educationalists, mental health experts, child activists, wherein they discussed the merits and demerits of conducting online classes. The committee was constituted to study the impact of online education on the middle and high school students comprising Professor M.K. Sridhar, member, the drafting committee of National Education Policy, senior educationists Professor Gururaj Karjagi and Dr V. P. Niranjanaradhya, representatives from Azim Premji Foundation, and NIMHANS
  6. The members of the committee were concerned about the screen time of the students. NIMHANS was against the long hours of exposure of children which would be adverse for their health. They were of the view that the government should “regulate the online classes” and not “ban the classes altogether”. However, the government was of the view that, not all families and students have access to the devices for online classes, hence the ban. 
  7. The state education minister, Mr Suresh Kumar said that the government will soon release the guidelines as to how to engage the students and go about their education until the lockdown reopens. 
  8. However, this blanket ban was discontinued by the Karnataka government, by allowing the online classes, with various stipulations. This was an interim order until the expert committee submits its report. Following are the stipulations stated by the government:
  • For classes 1 to 5: Online synchronous learning could be taken, however not more than 2 sessions of 30-45 minutes on alternate days i.e, Maximum 3 days a week. Synchronous learning means that the teacher and the students meet and interact digitally at a specific time,i.e, real-time learning. This is in contrast to the classes asynchronous learning, wherein, the teachers send the pre-recorded videos to the students.
  • For classes 6 to 8: Online synchronous learning could be taken, not more than 2 sessions of 30-45 minutes for 5 days a week. 
  • For classes 9 to 10: Online synchronous learning could be taken, not more than 4 sessions of 30-45 minutes for 5 days a week. 
  • No extra fees to be charged for providing the online education. 

Karnataka High court’s ruling to stay the ban

The writ petition was filed before the court, against the ban of the online studies ordered by the Karnataka government, mentioned above. 

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The court ruled that the ban was prima facie violation of the right to education (Article 21A) as well as the right to life and liberty (Article 21) of Indian constitution. The bench stated that, since due to the prevailing circumstances, online classes are the only method of imparting education amongst students.

Also, it must be noted that the bench clarified that the school cannot make the online studies compulsory for the students. Also, the schools can’t charge extra fees from the students with respect to online classes. The stay on the ban of the online class doesn’t mean that the students who can’t afford or opt for online education should be deprived of the education when the school starts its normal system of education. The court was of the view that the government schools also must create infrastructure so that its students are not deprived of the education. “We find no rationale on stopping the classes, the state making arrangements for the students so that all can join, is no way logical to stop the elite/private schools,” stated the court.

Further, the court criticised the ban because the order was given by the government without any final guidelines by the HRD Ministry under pragyata guidelines. 

Legal provisions involved

  1. Article 21 protects the right to life of the citizens. It protects the people of India against the arbitrary actions of the executive. By releasing an order, which isn’t within their rights is termed to be bad in law. Article 21A protects the right to education for children in the age group of six to fourteen. These are the two indispensable fundamental rights, conferred by the Indian constitution. Any law, order passed against fundamental rights could be declared null and void by the courts. Hence, the Karnataka government, by banning online studies for the students, who least can attend the lectures, was depriving them of the right to life and education. 
  2. According to Article 162 of the Constitution, the executive power of the state only extends to the matters which the state legislature can make laws. The state executive department thus can’t encroach upon the legislative power of the central. Hence, The Karnataka court was of the view that the executive orders passed by the government under this article can’t take away the fundamental right of Article 21 and 21A. 
  3. The bench said that the government has no power under the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 to put a ban or restrictions on imparting online education.

The guidelines issued by the HRD ministry for the online classes-pragyata guidelines

The Human Resource and Development Ministry has released the guidelines for the operation of online classes during the pandemic. Safety of the student in the digital environment is the utmost priority for the ministry.

The main motive of the guidelines is to cap the screen time for the students. 




On a given day for interacting with parents and guiding them, not more than 30 minutes.

Classes 1 to 12

Recommended to adopt/adapt the alternative academic calendar of NCERT at http://ncert.nic.in/aac.html

Classes 1 to 8

Online synchronous learning may be undertaken for not more than two sessions of 30-45 minutes each on the days the States/UTs decide to have online classes for primary sections

Classes 9 to 12

Online synchronous learning may be undertaken for not more than four sessions of 30-45 minutes each on the days as decided by States/UTs.

Other than the screen time concerns, the guideline included the 8 steps of online learning namely: Plan- Review- Arrange- Guide- Yak(talk)- Assign- Track- Appreciate.

Plan: Detailed lesson plans have to be prepared by the teachers for the online study. 

Review: Teachers should conduct the survey regarding the availability of the devices and the internet connectivity for the students.

Arrange: Teachers should make arrangements for contacting the students who do not have such devices available. 

Guide: Teachers can take help from the parents in order to make children learn the practical aspects of subjects taught.

Yak/ Talk: Teachers should maintain a forum to clear the doubts for the students and the learners.

Assign: Teachers should assign the works related to the families of the children, like making family trees, poems etc.

Track: The projects by students must be sent to the teachers by WhatsApp or mails. Further teachers can give their reviews and feedback for the same.

Appreciate: In order to boost the child and the parents, especially during the time of the pandemic, teachers should appreciate the students and parents work, the work completion etc. 

Also, to cater to the problem to internet connectivity, the education resources are to be shared through various other resources like TV, radios etc., for example, the topic-wise resources transmitted on channels like SWAYAM Prabha, Vande Gujarat, or on Radio programmes like All India Radio (AIR).

Further, the problem related to assessment was also dealt with, in the Pragyata guidelines. Like the committee recommended to avoid pen and paper exams as much as possible, rather there should be the promotion of alternative modes of assessment like working on projects, portfolios, conducting home-based experiments, interaction with family members and elders, creating prose, poetry and improving literacy skills. 

Also, the emphasis has been given to the role of the parents, especially for students of age 3-12 years. The parents should get more involved with the studies and help their children resolve the issues if any. They must discuss the do’s and don’ts for cyber safety. 


The decision of the Karnataka state government was undeniably bad in law. No one right now knows, as to how long this pandemic might last. Also, the risk of opening up the schools cannot be taken. Not just the education department but almost every department, agency across the globe are now depending on online sources. Completely banning the online studies hence had no sense. Moreover, if we see the legal side of this order too, it’s completely ultra wires to the constitutional provisions. The rationale behind the government banning the online classes was the:screen-time”; however, the government failed to notice that, not providing them with online classes, will automatically make them more vulnerable to use cell phones or Television for other wasteful activities, hence their motive of “reducing screen time for children” will automatically be defeated.

Also, the state must endeavour to provide the teaching resources to the students, so that they don’t miss upon the classes that are conducted online. Still, in case if any student cannot in any circumstance provide for the online classes, shouldn’t be forced to attend it. The decision of the government under the Pragayata guidelines, to telecast the NCERT curriculum or other such school boards on TV was remarkable.

Undeniably online studies do have a lot of issues associated with it, like irregular internet, or the cybersecurity issues, or be its availability of the device, but at this moment, the nation has no other option but to resume the studies online. Because pausing the studies have more drawbacks to it rather than the advantages. Also, if the government will be so indecisive with the education of the kids, this could harm their future to a great extent, since the lesson that they learn at the tender age establishes their identity and personality. 


  • https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1638541https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/karnataka-hc-stays-govt-ban-on-online-classes-violates-right-to-education-under-article-21a-159576
  • https://scroll.in/
  • https://leggerhythms.org/
  • http://allindiaradio.gov.in/
  • https://www.swayamprabha.gov.in/
  • https://vande.gujarat.gov.in/
  • https://www.mhrd.gov.in/

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