The Supreme Court on Friday said that the digital divide, against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, has produced "stark consequences" as right to education was virtually denied to children belonging to the disadvantaged group (DG)/economically weaker section (EWS), as their families could not afford computer-based equipment and access to internet for online classes.

It directed the Delhi government to develop a plan to help children of EWS category and added that Centre and state governments should jointly work to develop a realistic and lasting solution to ensure children are not denied education due to lack of resources.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: "It is necessary for Delhi government to come with a plan to uphold the salutary objective of RTE act. Centre to also coordinate with state governments and share concurrent responsibilities for the purposes of funding."

The needs of young children who are future of the country cannot be ignored, it said.

The bench emphasised that digital divide produced stark consequences as schools switched to digital medium during the pandemic, and that EWS/DG children may have to suffer consequences by not pursuing education, and in the worst case, they may even drop out, due to lack of resources to access online education.

It also appreciated the Delhi High Court order directing Delhi government to provide computer-based equipment and internet package, free of cost to EWS children in private and government schools.

The top court was hearing a plea by Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools in connection with the access to technology by children who are attending online classes and funding needed for the same.