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When will schools for children between 6-14 years start, Bombay HC asks Maharashtra government

By K A Y Dodhiya, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2020 06:29 PM IST

The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the Maharashtra government to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking restriction on the commencement of online and offline sessions for primary and pre-primary schools till September. After the government informed the court that it had issued a notification on Monday, stating that schools for students up to Class 2 will not be reopen till September, the court sought to know about the status of commencement of classes for children up to the 14 years of age as sought by the petitioner.

A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice K K Tated, while hearing the PIL filed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Ezra Foundation, through video conferencing was informed by advocates Shashikant Chaudhari and Manoj Kumar Singh that the health and well-being of the students between six and 14 years will be put to risk if they are asked to attend school during the coronavirus outbreak. The petitioners also argued that asking them to attend classes online for elongated periods would also pose a threat to their health and many parents would also not be in a position to provide facilities for children to attend the online classes. In the light of these submissions the advocates sought directions to the state to refrain from starting schools for this age group till September.

The petitioners also submitted that due to the financial problems being faced by parents during the lockdown, the state should frame guidelines for a “common fee structure” for private schools for the academic year 2020-21. Their advocates also informed the court that there were many schools that were forcing parents to pay fees for the academic year 2020-21 though there were no classes being held and hence there should be a court-monitored committee for framing guidelines of opening of schools across the state and preparing a list of erring schools that are charging fees and revoking their registration.

The court then wanted to know the status of reopening of school for students upto the age of 14 years, to which advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the state will file its response by Friday to which the court agreed.

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