The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea for deferment of school fees charged during the lockdown period, saying it did not want to interfere at this stage as the facts may vary from state to state, and that it will be better if the High Courts look into it first.
“This should have been raised before the state High Courts. Why has it come to Supreme Court? It’s a fact intensive situation,” Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading a three-judge bench, observed.
The bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna, said, “Problems in each state are different. These are fact-intensive situations in each state and even each district….You have filed a plea for the whole country. It’s a problem for us as we don’t know who would take decision for the whole country.”
The CJI further added that “parties are involving jurisdiction of this court as an omnibus case. But these are fact intensive situations in each state and even each district”.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner pointed out that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had allowed schools to charge the increased fee.
The CJI remarked that they could challenge that order, adding, “It would be a stroke of genius if you can solve everybody’s problems.”
The court made it clear that it was “not inclined to interfere at this stage” and asked the petitioners to withdraw their plea and approach the High Courts.
The plea, by parents of students from Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Maharashtra, cited financial difficulties and sought a moratorium or deferment of payment of school fees for the lockdown period.
It urged the court to ask Centre and states to direct private unaided/aided schools to only charge the proportionate fees based on actual expenditure towards the conduct of the online virtual classes and no other fees from the students from April 1 till the commencement of physical classes.
The plea pointed out that it may leave financially affected parents with no option but to withdraw their children from the schools for an unforeseeable period.
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