The Delhi High Court Tuesday restrained a private school built on public land from removing children, who were admitted under the EWS/DG category and are now in Class IX or above, for non-payment of school fee.
The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Social Jurist against Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Mehta Vidyalaya. In January and February, parents of EWS students above Class VIII received a letter from the school stating that the child “is eligible for free and compulsory education up to Class VIII. You are, therefore, required to pay full school fee equivalent to Open Seat admitted students/general category students from next academic session ie, April 2019”.
In the last few months, multiple instances of private schools demanding fee from EWS/DG students who passed Class VIII have surfaced. The cases have been reported from private schools built on land received from government land-owning agencies like the DDA at concessional rates. In all the instances, schools referred to provisions of the RTE Act, under which EWS/DG admissions are conducted, as being applicable only for elementary education.
According to the petition, the children had been asked to pay fee, failing which they were asked to take transfer certificates.
However, the petitioner invoked the Delhi Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2011. Under this, private schools built on public land “shall continue to fulfill their obligation for providing free education beyond elementary education and till completion of secondary/senior secondary education, as the case may be, and shall not be entitled for reimbursement [from the state government] to the extent of their obligation.” In an order Tuesday, Justice A J Bhambhani directed that the school not treat such children “as falling under the general category” till the next hearing.
According to Ashok Agarwal, advocate from Social Jurist, the current order is significant as it will act as a precedent.
Justice Bhambhani issued the directives, invoking an interim order the court had passed on a similar matter last April concerning two DAV schools, in which it had taken an identical stand. The case had been disposed in October 2018, after the school allowed the students concerned to continue with free education.
According to Ashok Agarwal, advocate from Social Jurist, the current order is significant as it will act as a precedent for all other instances of such schools that have been asking such students to pay fee in order to remain in the school.