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[Private School Fees] Calcutta HC Orders Police Action If Parents Continue Protests Outside School Premises [Read Order]

8 Sep 2020 4:08 PM GMT
[Private School Fees] Calcutta HC Orders Police Action If Parents Continue Protests Outside School Premises [Read Order]
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In the matter relating of charging of fees by private educational institutions, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday observed that if parents do not desist from agitating before the school premises, the Police may take appropriate action against them.

"It is hoped that the parents desist from carrying out any agitation at the schools gates, particularly since the matter is being considered by the court. Any report of further agitation at the school gates may be reported by the relevant schools for appropriate police action," the Bench comprised of … said.

The remarks were made as the Court granted relief to the parents, by declaring that schools cannot demand full fees for the months of August and September, 2020.

The Court ordered that for the said period, the parents will have to deposit only 80% fees, by September 15, 2020. Further, it was ordered,

"In the event such fees are deposited, online classes should be made available to the students irrespective of whether such facilities had been disrupted earlier."

The Court also "encouraged" the parents to clear previous arrears, if any, so that the schools are able to meet their financial obligations.

The case pertains to a writ petition filed on behalf of over 15,000 students against fees charged by 145 private schools. Earlier, the High Court had restrained all the schools from excluding any student from online examination, on account of non-payment of fees.

Students Shall Neither Be Barred From Accessing Online Classes Nor Prohibited From Participating In Online Examinations Till August 15 :Calcutta HC

The Court had also directed all schools to submit their audited books of accounts with income/ expenditure statements to a two-member Committee constituted by the Court to determine a standard fee structure for them.

This aspect of the order was challenged before the Supreme Court by certain minority educational institutions, claiming that the same amounts to interreference with their Rights under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

Accordingly, the Top Court had put the High Court's order in abeyance and directed the Petitioners therein to file a recall application.

SC Keeps Calcutta HC Order Regulating Fees Of Private Unaided Minority Educational Institutions In Abeyance; Directs Petitioners To Seek Recal

When the matter was taken up today, the High Court clarified that its order was in abeyance only qua the schools that were represented before the Supreme Court.

"A number of schools controlled by the Church of North India had applied before the Supreme Court by way of a special leave petition against the previous orders passed on these petitions. By an order dated September 3, 2020, the matters have been disposed of by the Supreme Court by keeping the order dated August 18, 2020 in abeyance. Such order of abeyance would apply only to the applicants before the Supreme Court," the Bench said.

It further noted that such minority institutions had not filed the recall application. Accordingly, they have been directed to file the same by September 14.

Lastly, some schools suggested that there cannot be a 'general order' for reduction of fees across the board as different schools have different expenses. They ahd thus requested the Court to permit all the institutions to constitute a committee comprising of the Headmaster, 3 Sr. most teachers and parents to examine and suggest the extent of fees reduction, on a case to case basis.

The Court expressed inclination to pass an order on this context, on the next date of hearing.

"There are 145 schools involved here. It may not be physically possible to go into the accounts of all the 145 schools and to make a decision in every individual case upon affording opportunities to the various parties to be heard. As a consequence, some mechanism has to be devised where the schools should be encouraged to offer a quantum of concession, particularly since the closure of the schools over the last six months or so has resulted in reduced expenses, though new expenses may have been incurred for starting online classes and conducting online examinations.

…there have to be voluntary suggestions made by the individual committees of each school which are proposed to be set up by the order that may be passed when the matter is taken up next," the Court said.

The matter is now listed on 14th September.

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