"It is not the right time to make business by the private schools which are basically in the nature of a Charitable Institution, and since they are under the administrative control of the State Government, the State need to act promptly, addressing the mass grievance."
The Calcutta High Court will hear a petition tomorrow, seeking directions to the Department of Education, Government of West Bengal, to regulate the fees structure of unaided private schools in the state.
The plea is likely to be heard tomorrow by a bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar at 10:30 am, through Video Conferencing.
The petition has been filed by parents of few students enrolled with Delhi Public School, NewTown, alleging that despite government advisory to consider delayed payment of tution fee sympathetically during the lockdown period, the fee payment portal of the said school is configured to charge only with the late fine, and there is no option to pay the fees without late fine.
Further it is alleged that the school has been increasing the fees (which includes tuition fees, transportation charges, laboratory charges, annual miscellaneous charges, etc.) every year, in clear contravention of the Model Framework with regard to Fee Regulation of Unaided Private Schools issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
In this backdrop, the Petitioners through Advocate Raja Satyajit Banerjee have prayed for a direction to all unaided private schools not to charge late fees till 30th June and not to increase fees and any other charges for the session 2020-21.
Inter alia, it is submitted that considering the acute financial hardship during the lockdown period, it will be reasonable to charge the tuition fees on monthly basis, instead of advance quarterly payment, for the 1st and 2nd quarter of this session (2020-21). Further, since the school is totally closed till 10th June, the Transportation cost and Laboratory charges should be abolished for the 1st quarter (April-June).
Furthermore, the Petitioners have urged for a direction to the schools to not strike of any name of students for non-payment of fees during the lockdown period and allow them to attend online classes.
"Striking of the name of students and debarring from taking online classes, for non-payment of fees, during the lockdown period, is totally unconstitutional, and against the spirit of the RTE Act 2009, which has been also advised by the NCPCR in its letter dated 21-04-2020," the plea states.
In addition to this, the Petitioner has sought for a direction to the Education Department of the state to form a committee headed by a retired Judge of High Court to regulate the fees of unaided private school under the State, as directed by the Supreme Court in Islamic Academy of Education and Ors vs. State of Karnataka and Ors., reported in AIR 2003 SC 3724.
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