Disposing of a plea filed by a Mumbai-based NGO seeking directions to the state government against conducting classes for primary and pre-primary students and those in the age group of three to 14 years until September and seeking guidelines for a “common fee structure” for private schools for the 2020-21 academic year, the Bombay High Court Friday said the aggrieved parents or associations can move the appropriate forum as per law.
The court also dismissed a plea by social worker Binu Verghese seeking from schools to charge not more than 50 per cent of the fees during the ongoing academic year in view of the pandemic due to lack of representation by parents.
The HC said nothing prevents parents in financial distress from approaching the state to frame guidelines for reducing the quantum of tuition fees due to Covid- 19 situation as it would require a policy decision.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice K K Tated on Friday heard through video conference, a plea filed by NGO Ezra Foundation through advocates Shashikant Chaudhari and Manoj Kumar Singh, seeking fee waivers for six months in view of the pandemic.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni Tuesday had informed that it has issued a notification on June 15 which prescribed that schools for students up to class 2 would not be started this month. The school associations had also filed interim pleas seeking relief.
The state government on June 15 declared the start of the new academic year for state board schools with online classes and allowed physical reopening of schools from July onwards in rural pockets and those located at a distance from cities that haven’t had a single covid case in over a month.
The notification said that for online classes, classes 3-5 have been allowed screen-time of one hour, classes 5-8 for two hours and classes 9-12 for three hours. SMCs along with local administration will be allowed to decide whether schools should be physically reopened.
As per guidelines, classes 9-12 can start from July onwards, classes 6-8 in August and classes 3-5 in September. Students of classes 1-2 have been asked to study at home through educational programmes on television and radio. Class 11 will be started after announcement of SSC results and subsequent admissions.
Disposing of the plea, the bench added, “Any individual/association is aggrieved by any of the terms of the guideline issued by the State, he/it shall be at liberty to ventilate his/its grievance before the appropriate forum in accordance with law.”
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