Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

A great nation is built on a character of its own citizens. It transforms into the character of the nation leading to its progress achieved through a value system.

— Madras High Court

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha, JJ., while addressing the present petition with regard to concerns arising due to online classes  quoted Swami Vivekananda,

“We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”

EDUCATION

Further, explaining the concept of education, Court stated that,

“A man is both a creator and destroyer. Therefore, he is his own future. A better future can only be secured through the younger generation, existing and awaiting.”

The process of creating a good citizen has got multiple roadblocks created by various factors. Thus, Education will have to address this seminal issue without deviating towards more literacy in imparting knowledge without character.

RIGHT USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN IMPARTING EDUCATION

With the onslaught of information pouring through technology, it is imperative to make sure that the children are groomed in the right way. Further, it was added that as we know, technology as such cannot be faulted but only its wrong usage.

CONCERN

Present matter has raised concerns with regard to the usage of online classes hastened by the pandemic.

Online classes have become one of the necessities than an option as schools are yet to re-open.

Social Divide is another factor which unfortunately gets widened through the imparting of the present education between the rich and the poor through the varied curriculum, methodology and facilities.

At the time of filing of the writ petitions, guidelines of the Union of India and the State Government were not in existence.

Bench stated that since the Court has prefaced on the extensive and exhaustive guidelines of the Government of India and the State Government, therefore it refrains from going into the materials produced.

Hence Court only highlights the important aspects of the guidelines while concentrating on the issues flowing out of the same including the complaints made on the extensive usage by some of the overzealous institutions.

CYBER BULLYING

Specific instructions have also been given to avoid cyberbullying. Clear instructions have been given to students studying in different classes, Parents and Teachers. Schools have been instructed to balance both online and offline activities. Advice has been given to safety and ethical precautions.

ATTENDANCE

On the question of attendance, schools have been informed that it shall not be accounted as mandatory for performance evaluation purposes.

Decision

High Court on perusal of the above stated that this new form of Education is created by the technology which has been imposed upon us by the pandemic. Therefore, it should be used as an opportunity to deal with the situation until the normalcy is restored.

Digitalization has created distinct literate called digital literates.

The Institutions along with the Teachers and Parents will have to play their respective roles with all seriousness.

Court has noted that that there are certain schools that are overburdening in conducting the examinations, making the attendance mandatory and taking classes beyond the time limit mentioned in the guidelines.

Bench does not approve of the above.

Taking care of the interest of the children is the primary duty of the Parents, Teachers, Institutions, Government and the Court.

Court is of the firm view that that the guidelines are to get the trappings of the mandatory directions.

Further, it was also stated that classes of varied categories such as Government Schools which are few in existence, aided and un-aided schools, their curriculum is also different. In view of the said, Court held that the guidelines are to be complied with by all the stakeholders.

Usage of recorded versions of online classes through local television

It is for the respective schools to adopt their mode while keeping in mind the guidelines issued. However, they can also explore the possibility of going for the recorded classes as it would ease out the pressure from the point of view of the students. Similarly, recorded versions can be sent through Whatsapp apart from being uploaded in the school portals.

Keeping in mind the interests of children, bench issued the following directions:

  • Guidelines issued by the Government of India and the State Government are to be treated and construed as mandatory
  • Time limit for the online classes should be strictly adhered to and any violation would require action
  • State of Tamil Nadu and other bodies, with whom the Schools are affiliated, shall issue circulars to the Schools which are to be circulated in turn to the Parents towards the measures that are required to be taken to block obscene contents.
  • programmes conducted will have to be sent by Whatsapp to the Parents and uploaded in the school portals.
  • At every District level, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the other competent authorities are expected to set up a Committee to monitor and supervise the due compliance of the guidelines by the institutions. These Committees will have to meet once in a month.
  • Concerned schools will have to undertake the exercise of identifying the problems being faced by the parents and teachers in online connectivity and avilability of the device.
  • Schools can also allow group of students identified by them requiring special attendance in view of the difficulties faced in online and digital education to attend physical classes while following social distance.
  • Schools can also explore the possibility of Teachers going to the students and giving education if there exists a facility to do so.
  • Guidelines with regard to attendance, test and examination will have to be strictly complied with.
  • Guidelines with respect to pre-primary students will have to be complied with strictly.
  • Schools will also have to explore the possibility of having end-to-end encryption.
  • Guidelines of the State Government will have to be translated in Tamil, if not done already.
  • There shall be an interaction between the Schools and Parents on the functioning of the online/digital education, as many of them may not be digital literates.

Bench disposed of the petitions stating that it hopes the above-laid guidelines are complied with and makes it clear that all the directions are applicable to the Schools functioning in the Tamil Nadu. [R. Bharaneeswaran v. Government of Tamil Nadu, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2301 , decided on 09-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J., passed directions regarding payment of fees to unaided private institutions. The present interim order will apply on all the unaided private institutions across the State of T.N.

“COVID-19  Pandemic has posed huge challenges to entire human kind.”

Bench observed that all the governments are grappling to handle the situation and every day new challenges stare at the face of the State and Central Government. Many decisions which seem to be right at the time when it is taken goes completely wrong at a later point of time.

The savings and contingency funds are dwindling every day due to the non availability of income. The economic breakdown has virtually come to a stage where the livelihood of many persons is under challenge.

Government order under challenge had virtually put a  lid on the institutions from collecting tuition fees and therefore aggrieved by the same, the unaided institutions have filed writ petitions  challenging the G.O.

The Bench, while taking into consideration the interest of all stakeholders, requested the State Government to take into consideration the same for which the State Government managed to come up with an interim arrangement.

Institutions must kick start their functioning

The unaided institutions depend upon only fees collected from the students which ultimately pays the salary of the teachers and non teaching staff without whom the institutions cannot function. Whereas, the other end of the spectrum is that many of the parents are also in the receiving end either because of no income or with a reduced income.

“…managements have managed to pay the salaries to the teachers and the

non teaching staff from their available reserve funds till date. This

the process cannot go on endlessly. “

Court in order to clear the logjam and strike a balance of interest of all the stakeholders, issued the following directions:

  • an interim order passed by this Court will apply to all unaided private institutions across the State of Tamil Nadu.
  • unaided private institutions shall collect 40% of the tuition fees as an advance fee based on the tuition fees collected during the academic year 2019-2020. This advance fee shall be paid by the students on or before 31-08-2020.
  • Arrears fees shall be paid before 30-09-2020.
  • If the students have already paid the entire fees including arrears, it cannot be a ground to claim refund.
  • balance of 35% of the fees based on the tuition fees collected for the academic year 2019-2020, shall be collected within a period of two months from the date on which the institution is reopened and physical classes commences
  • Fee Committee shall immediately start the process of the determining the tuition fees for the respective institutions and make an attempt to complete the process within a period of eight months starting from August 2020 onwards.
  • Teaching or non-teaching staff shall not insist for any increment in salary and/or DA until restoration of normalcy.
  • The State Government is directed to immediately take into consideration the request made by the institutions to supply textbooks and note books to the students either free of cost or at some nominal rates.

Matter to be posted on 05-10-2020. [Arockia Madha Matriculation Higher Secondary School v. Chief secretary to Government, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1442  , decided on 17-07-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by media, the Supreme Court bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and Indu Malhotra, J., stated that the flood situation in Kerala is a ‘grave’ one. It was observed that there needs to be an immediate hearing of the plea seeking Centre’s intervention to mediate between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Mullaperiyar Dam has crossed a threshold of 142 ft., it was submitted by a lawyer that there needs to be an immediate decision taken in for the disaster management steps to be taken in regard to the opening of 33 dams in Kerala.

The bench stated that under Section 9 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 a sub-committee would sit with National Crisis Management Committee to bring down the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam. Also, both the states i.e. Tamil Nadu and Kerala to co-operate with National Crisis Management in order to provide relief to the displaced people.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding the Cauvery Water Dispute that reportedly travels beyond 100 years, the bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, JJ awarded to the State of Karnataka an additional 14.75 TMC of water, i.e., 10 TMC, on account of availability of ground water in Tamil Nadu + 4.75 TMC, for drinking and domestic purposes including such need for the whole city of Bengaluru. Hence, in view of the allocation of additional 14.75 TMC of water to Karnataka, the State of Karnataka would now be required to release 177.25 TMC of water at the inter-state border with Tamil Nadu. The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal had, by award dated 05.02.2007, directed the State of Karnataka to release 205 TMC of water to the State of Tamil Nadu.

The Court noticed that the Tribunal had drastically reduced the share of Karnataka towards Domestic and Industrial purpose for the reason being that only 1/3rd of the city of Bangaluru falls within the river basin and also on the presumption that 50% of the drinking water requirement would be met from ground water supply. Holding that the said view taken by the Tribunal ignores the basic principle pertaining to drinking water and is, thus unsustainable, the Court said:

“Drinking water requirement of the overall population of all the States has to be placed on a higher pedestal as we treat it as a hierarchically fundamental principle of equitable distribution.”

In a 465-page detailed judgment, the Bench took note of the fact that around 20 TMC of groundwater is available beneath the surface in Tamil Nadu which the Tribunal has not taken into account citing it as a conjecture. Hence, while keeping in mind the risks associated with over extraction of underground water, the Court said that 10 TMC of the said available groundwater in Tamil Nadu can, in the facts and circumstances of the present case, be accounted for in the final determination of its share.

The Court, however, refused to interfere with the allocation of water in favour of the State of Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Stressing upon the importance of the matter, the Court said:

“in view of the acute scarcity of the water resources and the intensely contested claims of the States, it is expected that the allocations hereby made would be utilized for the purposes earmarked and accepted and no deviancy is shown in carrying out the verdict of this Court.”

[State of Karnataka v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 135, decided on 16.02.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Court directed the State of Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water from tomorrow i.e. 28.09.2016 till the next date of hearing i.e. 30.09.2016 and said that the State of Karnataka shall obey the order without any kind of impediment, obstruction or any other attitude till the next date of hearing. Needless to say, the water that has been released will be adjusted in the eventual adjudication.

Fali S. Nariman, appearing on behalf of the State of Karnataka had submitted that there will be difficulty on the part of the State of Karnataka because of the resolution passed by the State to use the Cauvery water for drinking purpose only and not to release the water to the State of Tamil Nadu. The bench of Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit, JJ, however, said that the direction for release of water has been passed for the coming three days despite the resolution passed.

The Court had asked Mukul Rohatgi, the Attorney General for India what could be the possible solution for the situation and said that the same is being done not because this Court cannot adjudicate or pass appropriate orders in accordance with law to maintain and sustain the rule of law and majesty of law which are elan vital of our constitutional law, but prior to that it would be appropriate if there is a  discussion regard being had to the conceptual federalism prevalent in our democratic body polity. Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the Union of India is prepared to facilitate so that the impasse between the two States can appositely melt. Both the States expressed their consent to it. [State of Karnataka v. State of Tamil Nadu, I.A. NO.12/2016 IN I.A. NO.10 in Civil Appeal No.2456/2007, decided on 27.09.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: As an interim measure, regard being had to the subsequent developments and the problems that have been highlighted by Fali S. Nariman in the State of Karnataka, the Court directed the State of Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of water from today till the next date of hearing i.e. 27.09.2016. The Court had initially, on 05.09.2016 directed the release of 15000 cusecs of water and had later modified the said order on 12.09.2016 and directed the release of 12, 000 cusecs of water by the State of Karnataka.

The bench of Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit, JJ noticed that the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal had fixed 192 TMC for normal year in favour of the State of Tamil Nadu and the Tribunal has also carved out monthly allocation from the month of June to May, which is called the “water year”. However, it was contended by the Counsel appearing for the State of Karnataka that is not a normal year and, therefore, there has to be adjustment in monthly allocation and If there is a deficit year and not a normal year, the yearly allocation has to reduce proportionally. He further contended that when the State of Karnataka is in a great misery as far as the supply of water is concerned, it is not possible to release any water in favour of the State of Tamil Nadu and that the State of Karnataka has to part with drinking water if it is compelled to supply the water to the State of Tamil Nadu.

Shekhar Naphade, the counsel for the State of Karnataka contended that the monthly allocation by the Tribunal is rational, inasmuch as it has taken into consideration various crops that are grown in the State of Tamil Nadu and seasonal requirement. He also submitted that both the States have to embrace the principle of adjustment in deficit year. He, however, said that the Tribunal has not really referred to the decision pertaining to drinking water for 2/3rd of the City of Bengaluru are covered by the water basin.

Considering the aforesaid contentions, the Court directed the Union of India to constitute the Cauvery Management Board within four weeks hence, regard being had to the directions by the Tribunal. The Union of India shall produce after four weeks the notification indicating that the Cauvery Management Board has been constituted so that, if required, appropriate directions can be issued to the Board. [State of Karnataka v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 962, decided on 20.09.2016]