The Supreme Court of India ruled Friday that if the fundamental right to education under “Section 21A of the Constitution is to become a reality”, then the needs of disadvantaged children “to receive adequate access to online education cannot be denied” .
The court made the order while issuing an opinion in a special leave application against a Delhi High Court Judgment. In this case, the High Court had ordered private and public schools in Delhi to provide gadgets and best-configured equipment, free of charge, as well as an internet package, to students from underprivileged and disadvantaged groups so that they could access online education. In addition, the High Court has asked the schools to seek reimbursement of the costs from the state government.
In a landmark order, Justice Chandracud reiterated the need to provide adequate equipment and access to online teaching facilities to disadvantaged students. The bench noted that during the pandemic, the digital divide in India has created “gross inequality in terms of access to education”. Due to a lack of internet and computer access, disadvantaged children will not be able to fully pursue their education and may be forced to drop out.
The bench also held that the state could not avoid its obligations under Section 21A of the Constitution, which codifies the right to education as a basic right for children aged 6 to 14, citing a lack of funds. In addition, governments at all levels of the federal structure must cooperate to ensure that appropriate facilities are made available to children of all socio-economic backgrounds, ensuring that those who lack resources are not left behind. deny access to education. Failure to provide access to online education would defeat the entire purpose of the Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009which was adopted to enforce Section 21A.
The court ordered the Delhi government to devise an action plan to provide realistic access to education for disadvantaged students in schools. He also ordered the central government to work immediately in coordination with other state governments on this issue.