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Coronavirus | Supreme Court asks parents seeking moratorium on school fees to approach High Courts

File photo for representational purpose only.

File photo for representational purpose only.   | Photo Credit: N. Sridharan

CJI says apex court cannot pass ‘omnibus’ order when the situation varies in different States and districts

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed parents seeking a moratorium on school fees for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions to approach the High Courts, saying the situation in each district, leave alone each State, differed from one another, and the apex court could not pass an “omnibus” order.

“Problem with every State is different. Parties are involving jurisdiction of this court as an omnibus case. But these are fact-intensive situations in each State and district,” Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde observed.

‘Drawn into so many’

The CJI said the Supreme Court “gets drawn into so many things”. He referred to cases involving issues like the release of prisoners, migrant workers, etc., during the pandemic. Chief Justice Bobde said parties invoke the jurisdiction of the apex court in myriad matters and then go on to express disappointment when the judicial orders do not meet their expectations. “It will involve a stroke of genius if everybody’s problems can be solved,” Chief Justice Bobde remarked.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Sunil Gupta, representing the schools’ interests, said there was a difference of views among the parent community across the country. Mr. Gupta said the policy should be left to the Executive to decide. Mr. Sibal submitted that school policy changes from district to district.

Hiked fees

Advocates Balaji Srinivasan and Mayank Kshirsagar said the Punjab and Haryana High Court has allowed schools to charge hiked fee. The court advised them to file an appeal against that order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The plea also sought that the Centre and all States be asked to direct the private unaided/aided schools to only charge proportionate fees based on actual expenditure towards the conduct of online virtual classes, and no other fees from the students from April 1 till the commencement of physical classes.

Parents of school-going children who have moved the top court hail from Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Maharashtra.

They said the fee has become an unbearable burden for parents who are already reeling under reduced income and loss of jobs during the pandemic. They had alleged that many schools had hiked their fees and started harassing parents to pay the entire quarterly fees in advance despite the non-functioning of the schools. They said this situation may continue in the foreseeable future.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 1:35:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-asks-parents-seeking-moratorium-on-school-fees-to-approach-hcs/article32042352.ece

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