In a decision that is likely to affect many schools across Delhi, the Delhi High Court stayed the collection of annual and development charges by a private school “during the pendency of the current lockdown”. The education department told the court this would mean as long as schools remained physically closed.
In the early days of the nationwide lockdown, on April 18, the Delhi government had issued an order stating, “No fee, except tuition fee, will be charged from parents during the lockdown period.” The tuition fees were to be collected on a monthly basis as opposed to in lump sums such as on a quarterly or annual basis. The order had gone on to state: “Annual and Development charges can be charged from the parents, on pro rata basis, only on monthly basis after completion of lockdown period.”
Many schools have begun charging their annual and development charges on a pro rata basis since July. However, the parents association of KR Mangalam World School in Greater Kailash II challenged this in court and sought a stay on the fee issued by the school in July, which included annual and development charges.
In court, the counsel for the department of education, however, did not stand by this fee demand. According to a High Court order by Justice Jayant Nath, the counsel stated that “the lockdown period as stated in the circular dated 18.04.2020 continues to apply inasmuch as none of the schools have physically opened. Hence, it is stated that the school in question cannot charge annual and development charges till the completion of the lockdown period as stated in the said circular.”
The court restrained the school from charging the annual and development charges until further notice and directed the petitioners to pay the tuition fee.
“There needs to be a distinction between lockdown and physical closure. Schools might be physically closed but nothing has changed. Expenses such as electricity, property tax and rentals which are covered under annual charges still need to be paid,” said advocate Kamal Gupta, who appeared for the school.
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