NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to entertain a public interest litigation against the full physical reopening of schools here in view of the concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, saying that there was nothing to show that the right to life of children would be endangered as there was no data to show that children were at a high risk.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi said that a balance has to be struck and the children were losing more by not attending school.
The bench, also comprising Justice Navin Chawla, dismissed the petition by lawyer Anand Kumar Pandey and said that a plea cannot be entertained in the absence of any expert opinion, simply on the basis of the petitioner's apprehension.
He argued that children aged less than 14 years cannot be compelled to attend school physically when they have not been vaccinated against the COVID 19 virus.
Pandey sought a direction to the Delhi government to recall the decision on 100 per cent physical re-opening of schools with effect from April 1 until all schools going children are completely vaccinated.
"The point is that there has to be a balance. Children are losing more by not attending school. There is no data to say that children are at a high risk of either contracting covid or getting severe covid", the court told the petitioner.
"The petition is founded on the petitioner's own opinion and there is no substantive basis for the petitioner to entertain the apprehension that he has expressed," it said. "There is nothing to show that right to life is endangered," it added.
The court observed that there are studies to show the psychological impact of absence from school on children as they have not been able to "develop" their social, behavioural and interpersonal skills.
The petitioner said that right to life was of utmost importance and the consent of the parents should be made mandatory to re-start physical classes for children.
"Let them not send if the parents are so scared. In fact, most parents are fed up and say send our children to school," the bench responded. "We do not find any merit in the petition. Dismissed," it ordered. The petition stated that if physical classes are permitted for children aged 4-12 years and 12-14 years without any preparation and vaccination, there would be "catastrophic spread" of the COVID-19 infection among children.