The Rajasthan High Court on Friday upheld the state government’s order directing private schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) in the state to forego 30 per cent and 40 per cent tuition fee, respectively.
Hearing over two dozen petitions connected with the school fee issue, a bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Satish Kumar Sharma said that “all private schools recognised by the Primary and Secondary Education Department shall be entitled to collect school fees from the parents including the students of pre-primary classes in terms of the order dated October 28 issued by the State Government.”
In the order, the state government had issued directions for collection of school fees, after the opening of the schools, to the tune of 70 per cent of tuition fees by CBSE schools and 60 per cent from those affiliated with RBSE, on the basis of reduction of the syllabus by the respective Boards.
Before the opening of the schools, it directed that the private schools which are conducting online classes shall be entitled to collect 60 per cent of the tuition fees as “Capacity Building Fees” from those who are availing the facility.
The order also detailed process of determination of tuition fees in terms of Rajasthan Schools (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2016, and under the 2017 Rules which envisage separate heads of fees such as tuition fees, library fees, etc. and that private schools shall not recover the fees for the facilities which have not been provided by them, such as laboratory facilities, sports facilities, extra co-curricular facilities, etc.
The court also directed the schools to form necessary bodies required for special determination of fees within 15 days and upload necessary details, including the strength and salary paid to the staff during the period in which the schools remained closed, on their notice boards as well as on their websites.
On April 9, following the lockdown in view of Covid, the state government deferred the collection of school fees for three months by the private schools.
Subsequently, on August 7, the deferment was extended till the opening of the schools, with the stipulation that the name of any student shall not be struck off for non-payment of school fees. Some school associations then challenged the order and the High Court directed them to allow the students to deposit 70 per cent of the tuition fees.
During the course of hearing, the state government constituted a committee for determination of fees to be charged by the private schools and came out with an order on October 28. The private schools contended that the State Government has no authority to issue directions regarding the collection of fees by the private schools, “thus, all the orders issued by the State Government are without any authority, therefore, liable to be quashed.”
The court, however, observed that the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 have an overriding effect on all other statues and the orders in question have been found to be issued under the act of 2005 for mitigating the plight of the citizens in unprecedented crises of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, the impugned orders can’t be termed as invalid or inexecutable…in these peculiar circumstances, it cannot be said that the directions issued vide order dated 28.10.2020 is arbitrary, unreasonable or biased in nature.”
Amit Chhangani, counsel for some of the petitioners, said that the order isn’t clear on various counts, including “for students who have not availed online classes, or if schools remain shut and a zero session is declared and students are promoted, then on what basis and on how much fee will the students be promoted?” Chhangani said that they will again approach the High Court on these issues or may file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines