A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has 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).
While hearing an appeal against the single bench order of the High Court, permitting all schools, irrespective of whether they offered online classes during the lock-down period or not, to collect the tuition fee, a division bench comprised of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli said,
"in the given circumstances, we emphasize that all the students would remit their school fee in sync with the directions issued by the learned Single Judge. However, the names of those students, who have either sought or apply for concession or waiver of school fee, their names shall not be struck off from the roles till their application(s) are decided by the School Management or by the Regulatory Body constituted under section 7 of the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Act, 2016, as the case may be."
The bench expressed confidence that the authorities or the Regulatory Body in seisin of such representations shall make every endeavour to decide the same as expeditiously as possible.
Upholding the single-bench order dated June 30, 2020, the Court said,
"we rather consider it expedient to observe that until further orders, all the parties shall adhere to the arrangements set out in the impugned judgment. Additionally, in the given circumstances, we emphasize that all the students would remit their school fee in sync with the directions issued by the learned Single Judge."
The Court clarified that its order is only interim in nature, and it shall be subject to any further order passed in the appeals. The matter is now listed for consideration on September 21, 2020.
The impugned order had reasoned that even though classes were not being held, schools were required to meet other infrastructural expenses and also pay salaries to its employees. It had therefore concluded that there is no rational in laying down such a classification especially when the obligations and basic expenses of all private un-aided schools remain the same irrespective of whether they are conducting online classes or not.
Case Title: Amandeep Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors.
Case No.: LPAs-409, 411, 413, 414, 415, 419, 420, 421, 447, 448 & 449 of 2020 (O&M)
Quorum: Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli
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