A PIL has been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking a direction to all private schools in the State to charge only tuition fee and desist from levying other ancillary charges, until the lockdown prevails.
The plea has been filed by two law students of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad, stating that it has become very difficult for parents to pay their children's school fees, as their businesses have been affected enormously due to the pandemic.
The Petitioners, through Advocate Yash Tandon, have pointed out that even though schools were not charging transportation fee, in terms of the Govt order dated April 21, 2020 and April 27, 2020, they were charging various other fees such as extra-curricular fee, library fee, electricity charges, computer fee etc., in addition to tution fees.
"In UP the Government order does not bar the practice of charging of fee under a composite head which includes not just tuition fee but also various other charges. In both the orders schools are not prohibited from charging fees under various heads i.e. Computer Fee, Electricity Fee, Lab Charges, extra-curricular Fee, etc.," the plea states.
It is contended that this practice should be stopped, especially because the abovementioned services are not being availed by the students due to suspension of physical classes.
It is also submitted that states such as Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Assam have already, by way of different orders, either directed schools to charge only tuition fee (without any other charges) or reduced some percentage of the total fee.
The Petitioners have called for a "balanced approach" stating that interests of both the stakeholders i.e. the parents and the schools should be weighed fairly. "It is highly onerous for parents, in this time of crisis where the businesses are badly affected, to pay for all the services which are not even used by their wards," the Petitioners remarked.
The petition is drawn by Advocate Aslam Ahmed.
A similar plea, seeking to waive off school fee for differently abled children who are unable to attend online classes due to their benchmark disability, is pending before the Lucknow Bench of the High Court. The bench comprising of Justice Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Justice Saurabh Lavania had issued notice to CBSE and the State Government last month.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had, last month, allowed private schools in the state to collect 70% school fees from the students.
The Government of Rajasthan has deferred the payment of private schools fee, due as on March 15, 2020, for three months, the High Court was informed while hearing a similar plea.
The Uttarakhand High Court had restrained private unaided schools from demanding tution fee from parents, and made payments optional. However, the order was challenged before the Supreme Court, and is pending consideration.