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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Delhi: HC to hear plea against order letting private schools collect fee

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said the parties may file their written submission before the next date of hearing, July 14.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 13, 2021 10:24:48 am
Delhi: HC to hear plea against order letting pvt schools collect feeThe DoE in two orders issued last year had allowed private schools to only collect tuition fee. (Express Archive)

The DELHI High Court Monday said it will hear on Wednesday an appeal against a single-bench decision, which permitted schools to collect annual fee from their students with a deduction of 15% on the total fee in lieu of unutilised facilities during the pandemic-induced lockdown.

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said the parties may file their written submission before the next date of hearing, July 14. The Supreme Court on June 28 had declined to interfere in the case and said that all contentions can be raised before the division bench in the pending appeal.

The Directorate of Education had last month challenged the judgment passed by the single bench and argued that every household has faced some kind of medical emergency during the pandemic, and the common man is diverting “hard-earned money” towards medical treatment. The additional financial pressure is uncalled for, it argued.

“Schools are conducting online classes with drastically reduced overheads like electricity, transportation, infrastructure maintenance, etc. How would a common man with his income at an all-time low or no income in few cases, survive this onslaught of additional financial burden where he is already struggling to make his ends meet with medical expenses like hospitalisation, doctor’s fees, life-saving drugs and medicines, and life saving equipment like oxygen cylinders, concentrators, etc,” it said in the appeal.

On April 18 last year, the DoE permitted private schools to collect only tuition fees during the lockdown period, and said annual and development charges can be charged from parents but only on a monthly basis after the completion of the lockdown period. On August 28, the government reiterated the April 18 order and clarified that no amount other than the tuition fee be collected.

The single bench, in a ruling on May 31, said the amount payable by students concerned will be paid in six monthly installments from June 10, while quashing the orders passed by the government on April 18 and August 28 last year with regard to collection of annual fee and development charges.

The Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools, which represents 450 private unaided schools in the capital, had earlier approached the court and argued that the orders curtail the rights of educational institutions to fix their own fees, and the education department is being influenced by the dictates of the political establishment which aims to please the vote bank of parents.

While disposing of the case, the single bench said the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Indian School, Jodhpur & Anr. vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors would apply to Delhi schools as well. The apex court verdict bars schools from stopping any student from attending classes on account of non-payment of fees.

However, the DoE in appeal has argued that Rajasthan’s law on school fee cannot be applied to Delhi, which has its own law and rules, “which enables the DoE to take any decision apropos to the given circumstances and to prevent the dropout from school”.

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