School fee row: HC gives partial relief to parents, private schools

Giving partial relief to both the managements of private unaided schools and parents of students in such institutions, the High Court of Karnataka has directed the schools to give 15% discount in fee for the academic year 2020-21 in lieu of underutilised facilities during the relevant period of that academic year.

However, the court directed the school managements not to debar any student from attending either online or physical classes on account of non-payment of fees, arrears/outstanding fees including the instalments, and not to withhold results on that account.

It also said that the school managements should not withhold the name of any student/candidate for the ensuing board examinations for Classes X and XII on the grounds of non-payment of fee/arrears for the academic year 2020-21, on obtaining an undertaking of the concerned parents/students.

Justice R. Devdas passed the order while disposing of the petitions filed by Mumbai-based Association of India Schools, an association of Private Unaided Schools, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, and others.

The petitioners had questioned the State government’s order of January 29, 2021, restraining all categories of private unaided schools from collecting fees for the academic year 2020-21 in excess of 70% of the tuition fees collected in the academic year 2019-20.

The High Court moulded the directions based on the May 2021 judgement of the apex court in the case of Indian School, Jodhpur, Vs. State of Rajasthan, in which the apex court had held that State government was not vested with powers either under the State Education Act, the Disaster Management Act, 2005, or under the Article 162 of the Constitution of India to issue directions on fixation of fees in private unaided schools.

Though the State government had initially defended its decision on imposing restriction on fee collection, during the arguments later admitted that it was bound by apex court’s judgement.

More concession

However, the High Court also made it clear that regardless of direction to give 15% discount in lieu of underutilised facilities, it is open to private unaided schools to give further concession to their students or to evolve a different pattern for giving concession over 15% discount.

The High Court also said that if any individual request is made by the parent/ward finding it difficult to remit annual fees for the academic year 2020-21 in the above terms, the school management is to consider such representation on a case-to-case basis sympathetically.

Meanwhile, the High Court made it clear that the above arrangement will not affect the collection of fees for the academic year 2021-22.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 6:04:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/school-fee-row-hc-gives-partial-relief-to-parents-private-schools/article36524104.ece

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