Schools entitled to collect tuition fee ‘irrespective of offering online classes’: HC
NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday allowed private schools to collect tuition fees “irrespective of offering online classes” to students during the coronavirus lockdown period. Justice Nirmaljit Kaur also allowed schools to collect admission fees.
The ruling came on a bunch of petitions filed by the Independent Schools’ Association, Punjab Schools Welfare Association, the Recognised and Affiliated School Association and others against the state of Punjab.
“All schools irrespective of whether they offered online classes during the lockdown period or not, are entitled to collect the tuition fee,” the court said. However, they will continue to endeavour and impart online/ distance learning so that education is not adversely impacted due to the present or future lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19, the HC observed.
According to the order, the parents who are unable to pay the school fee can submit their application with necessary proof about their financial status, which shall be looked into by the school authority and after looking into it sympathetically, give a concession, or exempt the entire fee, as the case may be.
“In case the parent is still aggrieved, in any manner, with an adverse decision by the school on his application, he may approach the regulatory body, so constituted under Section 7 of the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Un-aided Educational Institutions Act, 2016,” the order said. “No parent shall misuse the concession by laying a false claim”, as per the order.
The school managements have been asked to work out their actual expenditure incurred under the annual charges for the period the school remained closed. “The school management of each school shall work out their actual expenditure incurred under the annual charges for the period the school remained closed and recover only such genuine expenditure incurred by them, including actual transport charges and actual building charges, but shall not recover any charge for this period for any activity or facility towards which no expenditure was incurred,” the order said.
However, the schools have been restrained from increasing the fee for 2020-21 and they will adopt the same fee structure as of 2019- 20. “In case any school is facing a financial crunch for not having charged the increased fee for the year 2020-21, may move a representation to the district education officer along with its proof of the same, who shall look into it and pass appropriate orders within three weeks of the receipt of such an application,” as per order.
The High Court in its May 22 interim order had allowed private schools to charge a 70 percent fee from students for 2020-21. This order had come on a petition of the Independent Schools’ Association which had challenged the state government’s directions to allow schools to collect only tuition fees during the lockdown period, barring transportation, building, and other charges. Later, the parents had held protests at several places in Punjab demanding that they should not be charged for the period when children were at home.