A GROUP of parents belonging to different districts of Punjab have filed an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the decision passed by a single bench on June 30 regarding collection of school fee from the parents.
The Letters Patent Appeal (LPA) is listed for hearing before a division bench on Monday. The Punjab government also had earlier announced that it will challenge the decision of the single bench.
In the appeal filed through advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri, a total of 44 petitioners have argued that there is no rule or regulation to hold a person liable to pay charges for the services which have not been availed by them. A single bench on Tuesday allowed the private schools in Punjab, whether conducting online classes or not, to collect the tuition fee for the period of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“All school premises are closed. The private unaided schools are offering 2 to 3 online classes per day (against 6 to 7 classes as the standard set by CBSE, PSEB, ICSE Board) to some of the students at their homes. No buses are plying. No electricity/water charge incurred, no use of school premises etc,” the parents have said, adding, however, that they are being compelled to pay the total fee which is a sum total of all the heads.
While the government earlier had allowed only those schools to collect tuition fees which were conducting online classes and prohibited them from taking other charges like transport, building expenses during the period of closure, the single bench in its verdict asked the school managements to work out their actual expenditure incurred under the ‘annual charges’ head for the period they remain closed and recover only genuine expenditure incurred by them including actual transport charges and actual building charges.
The directions passed by the government had been challenged before the High Court by various school managements, including Independent Schools Association and Punjab Schools Welfare Association. The schools have been restrained from increasing the fee for the ongoing academic year (2020-21) by the single bench, which has ordered them to adopt the same fee structure as of previous year.
The parents in their appeal have said the judgment passed by the single bench ignores their helplessness and have submitted that their income is badly affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is also very strange that vide impugned judgment, the private unaided schools have themselves been granted liberty to ascertain their expenses and can charge those expenses from the parents,” the appeal states, adding a large number of schools are going to earn huge profit because of such decision.
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