Pvt unaided schools can’t debar students for non-payment of hiked fees for 2020-21: Bombay HC

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In a reduction to 1000’s of students and their dad and mom, the Bombay High Court directed non-public unaided schools to not take coercive motion of debarring any scholar from on-line or bodily lessons or attending the examinations on account of non-payment of the “increased component” of fees fastened for the tutorial yr (AY) 2020-21 over the previous educational yr 2019-20 on this floor alone.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni on Monday disposed of a clutch of petitions difficult a May 8, 2020 state authorities decision (GR) that barred non-public unaided schools from price hike for educational yr 2020-21 in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

The schools submitted that the choice was in violation of their basic rights and put pointless restrictions on administration of academic establishments, which incorporates the fitting to control and repair fees.

The court docket order copy was made accessible on Tuesday night.

The May 8, 2020 GR, whereas stopping non-public schools from recovering climbing fees, had additionally directed them to not gather yearly one-time fees for educational years 2019-20 and 2020-21 and provides dad and mom an choice to deposit the identical on a month-to-month or quarterly foundation. Earlier, in June 2020, sustaining that the state authorities doesn’t have energy to challenge an order barring non-public unaided schools from for the tutorial yr 2020-21 in wake of the pandemic, the HC had stayed the GR.

The bench had on March 1 vacated the interim keep on GR and stated, “The Government Resolution dated May 8, 2020, is only prospective in nature and cannot apply to schools which have already fixed/declared their fee for the Academic Year 2020-2021 and/or where such fees are duly accepted in terms of the amended Fee Regulation Act or has been acted upon before the GR.”

It added that the query of validity of GR as raised within the pleas isn’t determined and is “expressly kept open”.

“We are of the opinion that interest of justice would be sufficiently served if the State considers the issues in regard to each of such educational institutions, on a case-to-case basis…”

While the Court stated that the May 8, 2020 GR “does not and cannot be construed as a direction for refund of any fees collected for 2020-2021”, nevertheless, “the state government can take action upon receipt of complaints or suo motu, against the particular schools violating provisions of the law and those who have not determined fees for AY 2020-21.”

The HC additionally stated that any such criticism or suo motu inquiry shall be determined as early as doable and anxious academic establishments must be heard for the identical. It stated that pending the conclusion of the inquiry, no motion shall be taken in opposition to the establishment in case of any antagonistic order being handed and the identical shall not be carried out for 4 weeks thereafter.

The bench stated, “It is expressly clarified that all rights and contentions in this regard especially whether the State has the power to conduct such inquiry is kept open… It is also clarified that the protection to parents in respect of the AY 2020-2021 shall apply only in the event there is an increase in fees fixed in the AY 2020-2021 from the fees fixed in the Academic Year 2019-2020 and even in such a case only in respect of the increased component of fees and not the entire fees.”

Disposing of the plea, the HC stated that the ruling doesn’t entitle any mum or dad to say that fees are usually not payable and safety is granted solely within the peculiar circumstances as a result of pandemic and subsequently solely for the AY 2020-21.

“It does not prevent the educational institutions from taking such actions as may be permissible in law against the students who are in arrears or have defaulted in payment of fees for the earlier academic years or subsequent academic years,” the HC stated.

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