August 6, 2021 10:22:41 pm
The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the Delhi government in a petition filed by a union of private schools against a single-bench decision that permitted the institutions to collect annual fee from students with a deduction of 15% on the total fee in lieu of unutilised facilities during the Covid lockdown.
According to the petition filed by the Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools, which comprises more than 500 private schools in Delhi, the Directorate of Education has asked the schools to take the 15% cut on annual and development charges as well as tuition fee. The committee sought a declaration that the 15% reduction be made applicable only on annual and development fees and not on tuition fee.
In accordance with the High Court’s order last month, private schools in the city are now permitted to retrospectively collect charges other than tuition fees for the academic year 2020-2021, when the Delhi government had disallowed the collection of anything more than tuition fees. Schools are permitted to collect annual fees for 2020-2021 with a deduction of 15% in six equal monthly installments, with the first instalment collectable from June 10.
“If the interpretation of the Directorate were to be accepted as correct, it would lead to schools being denied of charging 15% of tuition fee, which is equivalent to the entire development fee, which is expressly permitted by the Ld. Single Judge to be charged,” reads the appeal filed by the schools.
The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh Friday granted time to the Directorate of Education (DoE) to file its response on the appeal and listed it for hearing on August 20.
An appeal filed by the DoE against the single bench’s decision is also pending before the High Court. Challenging the order granting schools permission to collect 85% of the fee, the DoE had argued that every household has faced some kind of medical emergency during the pandemic and the common man is diverting the “hard-earned money” towards medical treatment. The additional financial pressure is uncalled for, it has 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 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 kinds of medical expenses like hospitalisation, doctor’s fees, life-saving drugs and medicines and life-saving equipment like oxygen cylinders, concentrators, etc,” the DoE has said in the appeal.
On April 18 last year, the DoE permitted private schools to collect only tuition fees during the lockdown and said the 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 from students.
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 private schools’ committee had earlier approached the court and argued before the single bench that the orders curtail the rights of the 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.
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