Delhi HC notes steps by Kejriwal govt on school fee amid Covid-19 lockdown; disposes plea

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April 21, 2020 3:33 PM

The AAP government has barred private schools from demanding any charges except tuition fees which is justified, as teachers are taking online classes and discharging their functions during the lockdown period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even those students who are unable to pay school fees will be provided with course-work and other material and they will be permitted to avail online classes.

The Delhi High Court has noted that the AAP government has barred private schools from demanding any charges except tuition fees which is justified, as teachers are taking online classes and discharging their functions during the lockdown period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disposing of a plea on the issue, the court perused the Delhi government’s order that even those students who are unable to pay school fees due to financial crisis, will be provided with course-work and other material and they will be permitted to avail online classes.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, who conducted the hearing on a plea through video conferencing, said the authorities have taken cognisance of the issue and as the matter is in the policy domain the court is not inclined to interfere. The court passed the order on Monday, uploaded Tuesday, while disposing of the petition seeking direction to the Delhi government to suspend fees in private schools or give relaxation on transportation and other charges, except the tuition fee, from April to June this year on account of the coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Petitioner and advocate Rajat Vats submitted that during the lockdown period, students of various private schools in Delhi ought not to be made to pay the transport charges, fee for extra-curricular activities and other fees which are charged by the schools. He sought that since schools are not functioning, payment of tuition fee be also postponed.

Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh told the court that the authorities were fully conscious of the issues raised in the petition and on April 17, the Directorate of Education has already passed an order that no fees except tuition be charged.

He said the government was conscious of such students who may have financial difficulties and course material and classes have been made available even to them. The court order said: It is clear from the above that the authorities have already barred the charging of any fees except tuition fees. A perusal of points…show that even those students who are unable to pay school fees due to financial crisis, course-work and other material are being made available to them.

Such students are also permitted to avail of online classes. It is further clear that schools cannot deny access to online classes and other educational facilities due to non-payment of fees. Schools are also not permitted to charge any new head of fees, it said.

The court said however that charging tuition fee would be justified. It said: “Almost all the schools are conducting online classes and the teachers are discharging their functions by imparting course work over online platforms, checking project work online, correcting papers wherein students have already given examinations, preparing questions on lessons taught and supervising students to complete the work given etc.

“There is also a burden on the schools to pay their staff during these months. The petitioner also said some of the schools are demanding a consolidated fee, without distinguishing the various heads, that is, tuition fee, co-curricular activities fee and others.

To this, the court said if there is any specific complaint against any particular school, the parents would be entitled to bring it to the notice of the Directorate of Education, which shall take steps in accordance with law.

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