The Delhi High Court has refrained itself from directing all the private schools in the national capital to postponed charging of tuition components of school fees from parents, observing “there is also a burden on the schools to pay their staff during these months”.
Aware of the financial hardships being faced by the parents due to the lockdown, the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) on April 17 had directed the private schools not to charge any other component than the tuition fee.
Justice Prathiba M Singh observed; “As far as the tuition fee is concerned, the charging of the same would be justified in view of the fact that almost all the schools are conducting online classes and the teachers are discharging their functions by imparting course work over online platforms, checking project work online, correcting papers wherein students have already given examinations, preparing questions on lessons taught and supervising students to complete the work given etc.”
“The authorities having taken cognisance of the issue and further the matter being one in the policy domain, this court is not inclined to interfere,” the court said while disposing of a plea by advocate Rajat Vats.
Vats has sought that the Delhi government and its education department be directed to give relaxation or suspend fees of private schools of any nature in the national capital, in terms of transportation or other charges except tuition fees for the April, May and June 2020, on account of the COVID 19 pandemic which has affected the entire world.
He has contended that during the lockdown period students of various private schools in Delhi ought not to be made to pay the transport charges, fee for extra-curricular activities and other fees which are charged by the school. He has said that since schools are not functioning, payment of tuition fee be also postponed.
Delhi government’s Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh submitted before the court that on April 17, the DoE has already passed an order to the effect that no fees except tuition fee be charged. Vats submitted that a number of parents have deposited extra fee, apart from the tuition fee, in advance. “The adjustment of the same ought to be granted,” he argued.
On which, Delhi government’s counsel replied that they would consider this submission on its own and no directions need be passed by the court. Taking note of which, the court said, “It is clear from the above that the authorities have already barred the charging of any fees except tuition fees.”
“A perusal of points (v) and (vi) (order of the DoE) shows that even those students who are unable to pay school fee due to financial crisis, course-work and other material is being made available to them. Such students are also permitted to avail of online classes,” it noted. “It is further clear that schools cannot deny access of online classes and other educational facilities due to non-payment of fees. Schools are also not permitted to charge any new head of fees,” the court noted in its order.
On the contention raised by advocate Vats that some schools are demanding a consolidated fee, without distinguishing the various heads i.e., tuition fee, co-curricular activities fee etc., the court said, “If there is any specific complaint against any particular school, the parents concerned would be entitled to bring the same to the notice of the DoE, which shall take steps in accordance with law.”
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