The Allahabad High Court Bar Association as well as the District Bar Association, along with UP Vyapari Mandal and others have move the High Court, seeking relaxation to the tune of 50% of the actual tution fees being levied by the school during the 'Sit-At-Home' teaching model amid the pandemic.
They have highlighted that conducting online classes is a much cheaper schooling model as compared to the regular education model requiring physical presence, and therefore it is contended that "in the interest of all the canons of justice, equity, and good conscience, the fees of 'SitAt-Home Education', can by no means be equated with or the charged the same as the older actual/physical education of the pre-COVID-19 Era."
The plea has been filed through Advocates Sudhir Srivastava, Rajiv Shukla and Shashwat Anand, against arbitrary levying of fees, in the name of 'Sit-At-Home' (Online) Education, inter alia, seeking waiver of other fees that have become ineffective, such as Sports fees, Lab fees, Library fees, etc.
'Highly Onerous For Parents To Pay For All Services Which Are Not Even Used By Their Wards': Plea In Allahabad HC For Relaxation Of Private School Fees During Lockdown
"As of now the Schools/ Institutions are imparting solely 'Online Education' or ' Sit-At-Home' education exclusive of all other extra-curricular activities, such as library, spcrts, parking, canteen, computer and science labs, etc. The 'Online Education' or 'Sit-At-Home' education, by the widest stretch of imagination, can only be equated to Tuition' and the charging of tuition-fees. Thus, the charging of any fees, in addition to or over and above the Tuition-fees' is arbitrary and hit by Article 14 of the Constitution and hence unconstitutional and void," the plea states.
It is asserted that arbitrary levying of fees by private schools is violative of the UP Self Finance Independents Schools (Fee Regulation) Act, 2018 which seeks to regulate the conduct of private unaided schools and to provide a limitation on unreasonable demand of fees by such education institutions.
Other reliefs sought by the Petitioners include a direction upon the Respondents, including Central and State Government, CBSE, ICSE Board and the UP Board, to assure that any educational institution may not in any way message or call or harass the parents to deposit the fees failing which their wards may be debarred from the academic session 2020-21;
They have also sought a direction to the Government to lay down a comprehensive and uniform criteria/policy/plan/regulation/frame-work for the charging of a common/uniform fees, whether in respect of 'Sit-At-Home' education or otherwise, for the U.P., ICSE and CBSE Boards.
Further, they seek constitution of a Committee, comprising of appropriate Ministries, Authorities, Departments and all necessary stakeholders, so as to review, revise, rehaul and lay down a uniform policy/plan/criteria/framework/guidelines, for the charging of fees by the U.P., ICSE and CBSE Boards, inter alia, 'Sit-At-Home' Education fees;
Alternatively, they seek framing of appropriate guidelines by the High Court u/Art. 226, for the redressal of the matters and grievances as contemplated in the PIL, inter alia, dealing with the charging of fees, including 'Sit-At-Home' Education fees, during and notwithstanding, the COVID-19 Era, and issue appropriate directions in regard thereto.
In June this year, the High Court dismissed a PIL seeking complete waiver of school fees, including tution fees by private schools, amid the pandemic.
"Most of the schools and colleges are taking up on-line classes for the students and teachers are taking either live classes or sending videos to the students. Even students are being given homework and the same is being checked by the teachers," the Court had observed.