The Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday ordered the Chandigarh Administration as well as the Punjab and Haryana governments to ensure that private schools do not create any impediments in issuance of school leaving certificates to those schoolchildren who want to enroll in government schools.
The order was passed in a petition filed by the Independent Schools’ Association and other school managements against the orders issued by the Chandigarh Administration, asking schools to only collect the tuition fee on a monthly basis and to not increase the fee for 2020-21 without specific approval from the administration.
A single bench of the court on Monday extended scope of the petition as it took note of the fact that many parents want to shift their children to government schools due to financial problems.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the administration initially asked the schools to reschedule the last date for depositing fee to a period one month after the reopening of the schools but later permitted them to collect the tuition fees – not total fee – on a monthly basis and fixed the 15th day of every month as the last date.
The schools in the order passed in May by the administration have also been ordered that neither the name of the student is allowed to be struck off, nor are they to be deprived of online teaching during the lockdown period.
The schools in their petition before the High Court have argued that the directions issued to them by the administration are an abuse of power.
The petitioners have also contended that they are conducting classes through online technology and also have to pay salaries to the staff, both teaching and non-teaching.
Several schools have made exhorbitant investments in technology platforms and devices in the interest of the students, claim the schools.
The Chandigarh Administration, in a reply to the petition on Monday, said the educational institutions are not entitled to profiteering and also informed the court that the whole issue with regard to tuition fee is pending before the Supreme Court.
It also argued that CBSE bye laws provide that the fee should be charged as per the regulations of the government.
“Owing to the national lockdown since March 25, 2020, the public at large are facing hardships and have been financially crippled having lost sources of livelihood and/or loss of business. The lockdown still continues and the schools and all educational institutions are lying closed,” said the UT authorities in the reply, adding the majority of the schools have always propagated themselves as smart schools and now are misrepresenting that they have spent money on extra infrastructure for online classes.
The schools being run by proclaimed charitable trusts cannot be allowed to feed on the misery of the financially crippled parents, said the UT in its reply.
The administration also said no details have been provided by schools with respect to any financial liability.
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