Telangana High Court. (DC Photo)
Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Thursday refused to stay the memo issued by the government that directed all government and private schools in the state to re-open from February 1 and conduct normal classes.
However, the court directed the state government to provide online classes to students who are not attending the normal classes on account of the pandemic. Either satellite classes or any other mode of online classes have to be made available to the students, apart from offline classes, the court ruled.
The directive is applicable to government as well as private schools, the bench made it clear. Online classes must be taken till February end, the order issued on Thursday said.
A division bench of the high court comprising chief justice Satish Sharma and Justice Abhinand Shavili was dealing with a batch of PILs related to Covid19.
Counsel Ravichander sought a stay on the government decision that schools must resume normal classes. He said there is no vaccination for children yet, no sufficient infrastructure, no sufficient space in government schools to have them maintain social distancing and no proper mechanism in place for them to study online. He sought a direction from the court to all schools to permit students study online as well as via normal classes.
Not inclined to stay the memo, chief justice enquired with the counsel as to how many states in India have closed the schools. If no state did so, why should Telangana alone do so?
Counsel brought notice of the court that the report submitted by government itself stated that around 7.70 lakh persons in Telangana state was scanned for Covid19 and Omicron in the last two weeks and in this circumstance, the health of children may be affected.
Disagreeing with the contentions of counsel, chief justice observed, "Students can pursue studies in online mode in Hyderabad city but what will happen to the schools located in villages... where schools do not even have a table and chair to sit … and you want the infrastructure there, which is not there…. We are not talking about the schools like Hyderabad Public School or any corporate school in Hyderabad. We are dealing with the schools located in small villages where children sit on ground under the trees with a black board … and you are talking about virtual classes in such schools!"
Chief justice also expressed unhappiness as to how the legal platform is being used for different reasons by some persons, as counsels complained that the government was only issuing statements about creating medical infrastructure, whereas there is no action so far since the start of Covid19 two years ago.
The CJ observed that "this is the attitude of our people, when the government intends to build multi-specialty hospital in Ranga Reddy (Gaddiannaram), they file PILs and seek a stay."
"Again, they come to the court complaining there are no medical facilities. Not only in this issue, it has become a common problem," the CJ said.
He also clarified that he was not against anybody or in favour of anyone. But, this was how things were, he said.
Pawan Kumar, counsel for petitioners, requested the court to direct the government that it should make sure the daily Covid bulletin must contain the number children being affected.
Counsel Prabhakar complained that no Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed at the ceremony at Ashram of Tridandi Chinna Jeeyar Swamy at Muchhinthal village on the city outskirts. Counsel Ravichander objected to this said he was at Ashram and all the Covid19 protocols were being duly followed by the saints, pilgrims, visitors and the main saint Jeeyar Swamy.
The court stopped the arguments between counsels. CJ asked advocate general to ensure that covid-appropriate behaviour is followed at that place.
Srinivas Rao, director of Public Health and Family Welfare, appeared before the court in virtual mode and informed that the Telangana government is making every effort to curb Omicron. As many as 6,000 beds for ICU, 4,125 beds with oxygen facility, 1,875 beds with ICU ventilator, and facilities in paediatric division for newborn babies are also created.
He said the government has taken a door to door fever survey across the state from January 21 to 31 to ensure that people with symptoms are identified and extended treatment. He also said the vaccination drive across the state has also been taken up and efforts are being made to vaccinate the entire population of the state including the floating population, due to which the targeted percentage of vaccination in the state is crossed.
The CJ adjourned the batch of petitions to February 28, directing the government to file a fresh status report.