The Punjab and Haryana High Court has restrained schools situated in areas within its jurisdiction from charging transport fees from students.
"In view of the fact that the students are not going to school, the transport fee may not be charged," the Bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh ordered.
The Division Bench was hearing an appeal against a July order of a Single Judge, wherein directions were given in relation to charging fee etc. from the students in COVID-19 situation.
The Court was informed that the students are being charged transport fees even while the classes are being conducted online. Further, annual fee of Rs. 34,000/- was being levied for building maintenance even though the building has not been in use for the last seven months.
The Petitioner-appellants pointed out that the impugned order relied on the judgment in Independent School Association Chandigarh (Regd.) & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., which itself was passed in ignorance of the Haryana School Education Act, 1995.
In the said case, the Single Judge had held that all schools, irrespective of whether they offered online classes during the lock-down period or not, are entitled to collect the tuition fee. This was challenged before a Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha, who clarified that even though the schools are permitted to collect tuition fee, they shall not strike out the names of such students who have either sought concession/ waiver of school fee (until disposal of their representations).
Schools Shall Not Strike Out Students' Names For Non-Payment Of Tuition Fees Until They Decide Representations For Concession/ Waiver: P&H HC
That appeal is still pending and is scheduled to be taken up on October 1, 2020.
Inter alia, the Court has ordered that annual charges, meant for maintenance of the school building, shall remain stayed to the extent of 50%.
This middle ground is taken to ensure that school authorities are able to maintain their premises.
The matter is now listed for hearing on Thursday.
Case Title: Ashish Kumar Garg & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Ors.
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