Published: 19th May 2021
NHRC warns Centre of coercive action, on plea over hardships students face in attending online classes
The NHRC passed the order acting on a petition filed by noted human rights activist and Supreme Court advocate Radhakanta Tripathy on the hardships faced by students
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday warned the Centre of coercive action while issuing the final reminder to the notice served to the Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Secretary, Education, Department of Higher Education, over the hardships, miseries, and sufferings of financially weak students in attending online classes. The NHRC passed the order acting on a petition filed by noted human rights activist and Supreme Court advocate Radhakanta Tripathy.
Seeking an urgent intervention of the NHRC, Tripathy moved a petition stating the hardships and life-risk run by students walking kilometers out of their homes, trekking water tanks, trees, and hills, to get the internet connection required for the online education during COVID-19 pandemic. "While 'Stay Home and Stay Safe' has been the campaign propagated by both the Centre and states, due to inaccessibility of internet, poor connectivity, and lack of power supply, students, especially in the remote areas and from the vulnerable segment, have to come out of their houses and walk for miles for the bare necessities for their studies," Tripathy said.
"This creates an education deficit and enlarges the gap of privileges among the student communities in the country," Tripathy said. The plea stated that more than one crore students across India have been deprieved of education due to lack of active intervention by the government. It added while on one hand there is no communication facilities to move out physically, on the other, power supply and digital connectivity remain a mirage for the students in many areas of the country. Citing various instances of the problems faced by students, Tripathy pointed out that thirty eight lakh students in Odisha are deprived of the facility due to non-availability of mobile network in their areas as admitted by the Odisha government.
The NHRC, in its order, further mentioned, "No report is received from the Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Secretary, Education, Department of Higher Education, despite the notice issued. Let a reminder be issued to the authorities concerned to submit report within four weeks failing which the commission shall be constrained to take resort to coercive measures under section 13 of the Protection of Human Right Act (PHRA)."
Similarly, in Telangana, students in adivasi areas of Asifabad, Mancherial, and Adilabad, and remote villages of ITDA Utnoor and Eturunagaram tribal regions, suffer the same problem, the petition added. However, in Jammu and Kashmir, students could not access online classes because of the government restricted network connectivity to 2G instead of 4G, the plea pointed out.
"The gap between rich and poor, urban and rural students has been multiplied manifold. Failure, negligence and inaction of the Centre, all state, and UTs governments," he said. He requested the NHRC to ensure smart mobile phone to each one of financially poor student and to ensure proper electricity supply and network connectivity for online classes during exigencies and post-pandemic period as well, and a digital connectivity throughout the year covering whole of India.