27 Aug 2021 6:49 AM GMT
The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea filed on behalf of two students studying in a private school in Delhi who have their father due to COVID-19. The plea stated that they are running the risk of discontinuing their studies in the same school due to inability to pay fees.The application seeks directions to the Central Government and Govt of NCT of Delhi to waive/ reimburse...
The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea filed on behalf of two students studying in a private school in Delhi who have their father due to COVID-19. The plea stated that they are running the risk of discontinuing their studies in the same school due to inability to pay fees.
The application seeks directions to the Central Government and Govt of NCT of Delhi to waive/ reimburse complete school fee of these two children and to ensure the continuation of education of both these children in the same school.
The matter was heard by the division bench of Justices LN Rao and Hemant Gupta.
While issuing notice Justice LN Rao remarked, "We'll issue notice but we're not very sure if that'll help you. Once we start entertaining petitions like this, a number of people will come rushing. We're giving general directions to people who are in need."
Pointing out that the late father of the children was a Professor in a private college, the bench asked Advocate Shobha Gupta, who appeared for the applicants, if they are getting any financial benefits. The bench commented that the applicants are not belonging to "lower strata" and that its orders were meant to protect children in need of care and protection.
In response, Gupta submitted, "I am in constant touch with the mother who is finding it difficult to pay fee and more over under their policy and pursuant to court order, it is incumbent upon the Delhi Govt to examine their case to see whether they are entitled or not. It is necessary that the widow mother is let know by the government whether she is getting any support or not from the government".
The counsel also submitted that it is necessary to know whether these govt. schemes are conditional or meant to support all Covid affected children unconditionally.
Following this, the bench issued notice to the Centre, Delhi Government and the school.
The IA has been filed by an NGO through Advocate Shobha Gupta in the suo motu case taken up by the Apex Court to deal with the issue of children affected by COVID(In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Children Protection Homes). It also seeks directions to provide necessary financial aid for continuation of education of both children and restraining the school from taking any adverse action against the children or discontinuing their education due to non payment of fee.
"The petitioner forum in the month of June, 2021 contacted the school administration for relaxations pursuant to orders of this Hon'ble Court dated 07.06.2021. The school administration orally agreed for relaxation of 25% of the fee for both the children as a personal favour but not as a policy, though even this verbal assurance has not been given effect to. The petitioner forum on 26.07.2021 also contacted the Childline 1098 for assistance and they promptly relegated the complaint to the Child Welfare Department, Government of Delhi and the representative of Child Welfare Department contacted the mother of the children and procured all the details from her but nothing progressed even at their end thereafter," plea states.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose had yesterday (on Thursday) asked Advocate Shobha Gupta to file an interim application in the case with both the School and the Delhi Government as respondents.
The Court had also asked the Counsel to mention the case before the Bench today.
"In delhi regarding private students, I have live example of 2 brother-sister, they have lost their father due to covid, they are studying in private school, they are facing predicament that school is not even declaring their result and their is no cooperation. In fact they have contacted the child line, but no progress has been taken and it has been more than one and a half month These students are running risk of discontinuing their study in same school."Advocate Gupta had informed the Court on Thursday.
The instance of these children was shared by Advocate Shobha Gupta after Amicus Gaurav Agrawal informed the Court that in Delhi, the Education part is a little problematic, as the affidavit filed on behalf of the Delhi government does not indicate how many children are in private schools.
According to Amicus, some more initiative is required on part of Delhi to ensure that those children whose guardians or surviving parent are not in a position to bear the burden of education are continued in the same school at least in this academic year.
In response, Advocate Chirag Shroff for GNCTD had informed the Court that there is a small impediment with regard to information of children in private schools as the same has not come from the Department of Education and is still awaited.
"Students from government schools are not a matter of immediate concern now, we want to find out about how students studying in private schools are protected." the Bench said.
The Court had on Thursday expressed serious concern towards education of children who became orphans after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, in private schools.
The Court directed the State Governments to ensure that the education of these children is continued without disruption in those schools at least during the present academic year.
The Court said that the same can be done by asking schools to waive fees or state bearing half of the fees for such children, the Court suggested.
The States have been directed to act in cohesion with Child Welfare Committees & District Education Officers in having dialogue with private schools where these children are studying to ensure their education this year is not disrupted.
Case Title: We the Women of India Through its Member Secretary v Union of India
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