COVID-19: Calcutta HC directs that 80% of outstanding school fees till July be cleared by August 15

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Published: July 21, 2020 7:55 PM

The court noted that no particulars in such regard have, however, been furnished either in the petition, nor is it evident that the 112 schools that are involved in this case have either paid all their staff or have even paid them at a reduced level.

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed that 80 per cent of outstanding dues till July on account of school fees of students of private unaided schools will have to be cleared by August 15. Passing the interim order in a petition representing parents of over 15,000 students enrolled in 112 private schools in and around the city, Justice Sanjib Banerjee directed that none of these schools involved should discontinue making online courses available to any of its students unconditionally till August 15.

The court further directed that none of the 112 schools will prohibit any of the students from participating in the online examinations, if any, till August 15, adding that these directions are applicable for all classes and all
courses. Those already debarred from online courses or online examinations will be restored to their previous status, the court said.

“By August 15, 2020, the outstanding dues of each student, as at July 31, 2020, have to be cleared to the extent
of 80 per cent,” Justice Banerjee ordered. The court noted that the petitioner represents the parents of over 15,000 students who are enrolled in 112 private, unaided schools in and around the city.

Petitioner Vineet Ruia claimed that the private, unaided schools in the city and elsewhere in the state continue to demand regular fees though the schools have not functioned for the last four months. The writ petitioner demanded appropriate discounts on account of reduced costs in the running of the schools over the last four months.

He claimed that online courses and examinations have been started by some of the 112 schools and students whose
fees have not been cleared have been barred from participating in the online courses or taking online examinations on such ground.

Appearing for the West Bengal government, Advocate-General Kishore Datta submitted that requests have been made from time to time by the state government through notifications, calling upon the private, unaided schools to
refrain from increasing the fees and for giving discounts and concessions to the students.

The AG submitted that not all private, unaided schools have paid the salaries or dues of their employees, including
the teachers. Some of the schools, represented by their lawyers before the court, submitted that contractual employees may not have been paid or their services renewed; but regular employees have been paid.

The court noted that no particulars in such regard have, however, been furnished either in the petition, nor is
it evident that the 112 schools that are involved in this case have either paid all their staff or have even paid them at a
reduced level.

Noting that it is not possible in the absence of the boards or councils to which the 112 schools are affiliated, to
ascertain whether such authorities wield any power to regulate the fees of their affiliated schools, Justice Banerjee
directed the petitioner to forward copies of Tuesday’s order to all the councils or boards for indicating their response
before the matter is taken up next on the second Monday of August. The petitioner was also directed to forward copies of the order to each of the 112 schools.

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