The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Chairman of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) to decide on refund of fees collected for Secondary School Certificate (SSC-Class 10) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC- Class 12) exams, which were not conducted due to the pandemic.
The Court directed the Board and its Chairman to decide on the representation in the regard made by a retired school principal at the earliest, preferably within four weeks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL by Pratapsing Chopdar, a retired principal from Miraj in Sangli district, seeking directions to the respondent Board to refund the students. Pending hearing of the plea, the Board should deposit the entire amount collected from the students in the Court, the petition added.
In his representation to the MSBSHSE and its Pune Divisional Board, Chopdar said despite impediments, parents had deposited exam fees as a result of which the Board had received crores of rupees from every district for SSC and HSC examinations.
Arguing for the petitioner, advocate Manoj Shirsat said MSBSHSE has recovered fees of Rs 415 each from 17,65,829 students who had registered for Class 10 exams and Rs 520 each from the 15,07,314 students of Class 12 for the year 2020. The Board had collected Rs 80 crore and Rs 70 crore from Class 10 and 12 students, respectively, the petitioner said. Shirsat said that as the statistics for students registered for 2021 exams were not available, the petitioner was referring to last year’s figures. As the exams were cancelled based on two Government Resolutions (GRs), the state was required to refund the fees, the plea stated.
Petitioner Chopdar further said that while he had made a representation in the regard to the Chairman of the Board on June 22, there was no response from the authority which prompted him to approach the HC.
After hearing the submissions, the bench said, “We hope and trust the Chairman of the Education Board shall pass appropriate orders on the representation. This exercise will be completed at earliest, preferably within four weeks. The petition is disposed of.”