The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the associations of private schools to formulate a scheme with respect to payment of school fees "in installments".
The direction has been made by a single bench of Justice R. Mahadevan in a batch of petitions filed by the Federation of Association of Private Schools, All India Private Educational Institutions Association and the Consortium of Self Financing Professional.
The bench ordered that the Petitioners should formulate an appropriate scheme balancing the interests of both the institutions as well as the parents, and place it before the Central Government for final decision.
The Petitioners had approached the High Court highlighting the plight of schools during the lockdown that had been restrained from collecting school fees but were required to pay the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff apart from other charges, bills, etc.
They had particularly challenged Government Order dated April 20, precluding schools from forcible collection of school fees.
It was submitted that schools were conducting online classes and students are availing benefit thereof, thus the institutions are entitled to charge tuition fees, to meet out their infrastructural expenses.
The Respondents on the other hand had contended that the impugned order, issued under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, does not prevent the parents from paying fees "voluntarily". It was further pointed out that the order did not waive of any fees and it was merely an appeal to the schools to not force the students to remit the fees till the situation becomes normal.
So far as the institutional expenses of the schools are concerned, the authority submitted that the amount remitted to schools as reimbursement for 25% seats allotted under the RTE Act may be utilized in paying the salaries to the teachers for the next few months.
After hearing these submissions, the court ordered,
"The petitioners herein are directed to formulate an equation / Scheme with respect to collection of fees, not based on the fee structure framed by the Committee, but in instalments for a while, without prejudice to the rights of the parents and children, by way of detailed representations and submit the same to the Government…"
"On such representations being submitted, the respondent Government shall consider the same, take a decision and file a report before this Court, on or before 06.07.2020."
The matter is now listed for hearing on July 8.
Case Title: Federation of Association of Private Schools Government Office of Revenue v. Disaster Management Dept. (and other connected petitions)
Case No.: WP No. 8490/2020
Quorum: Justice R. Mahadevan
Appearance: Senior Counsel KM Vijayan for E. Vijay Anand (for Petitioners); AG Vijay Narayan assisted by GP V. Jayaprakash Narayanan and AGP R. Vijayakumar for (State)
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