The Delhi High Court Wednesday restrained Air Force Bal Bharti School from expelling 10 economically weaker students for non-payment of tuition fees and other charges. The Indian Express had Tuesday reported that the children had approached the court against the school’s directive to their parents to either pay the fees or face expulsion.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher passed the interim order on a plea by the 10 class IX students, who were admitted to the school under the EWS quota, and cleared class VIII in the 2018-2019 academic session.
The court sought the response of the school and the Delhi government, and listed the matter for February 7 next year.
The students, in a plea filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal, claimed that the school was threatening to expel them for non-payment of tuition fee and other charges, even though they are legally entitled to continue their studies up to class XII under the EWS category.
The plea said the school is on government land, and as per provisions of the Delhi Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules 2011, private schools on government land are obliged to allow EWS category students to study beyond Class VIII.
On August 13, the children had received a “final reminder” from the school, asking them to pay fees amounting to Rs 36,620 for two academic quarters, spanning from April to September.
“You are advised to pay the school dues latest by August 19 else the name of your child will be struck off from the school rolls,” read the letters to their parents, signed by Sunita Gupta, the school’s principal.
On Tuesday, Gupta told The Indian Express that schools are well within their rights to ask for fees from the students concerned. “The freeship provision in the Right to Education Act is only till Class VIII or when the student turns 14 years old, whichever is sooner,” she said. Asked about the unique conditions binding schools such as hers, which are on government land, she said that the school was “seeking legal counsel on the matter”.
This is not the first time the school has sent such a communication to the students. Earlier this year, The Indian Express had reported that students who were admitted to the school under the EWS category and were going to complete Class VIII had received letters from the principal, telling them they would no longer be eligible for free education once they reached Class IX.