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Fresh plea in SC seeks fees waiver of private schools for 3 months

July 1, 2020

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a waiver of private school fees for a period of three months starting April 1 till July 1 2020 as well as regulatory mechanisms for structuring and collection mechanism of fees PAN India during Covid-19 lockdown.

The PIL filed by Parents Associations in 9 states- Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh has been filed through Advocate Mayank Kshirsagar and seeks “protection of fundamental right to life as well as education guaranteed under the Constitution”, which they are “deprived off” as per the petitioner.

The plea said, “the ongoing pandemic-COVID19 period and sustained financially incapacitated parents are bearing the brung of the fees of the children, even after being faced with constant financial and emotional hardships which may leave a few of them with no option but to withdraw their children or students from seeking institutional/school education for an unforeseeable period of time.”

“Despite such financial crisis cited by the various parents as well as absolute non-functioning of any school and/or non discharging of any service, no private aided/unaided school granted a waiver/partial waiver of the entire school fees for such lockdown period commencing April 2020”. Thus, the petitioner(s) state that it becomes the duty of the Government to protect the fundamental right of Right to Education in “event of inability in payment of fees due to financial hardships of a parent, the protection which is provided for … in the Constitution”.

Parents have said that the online system of education has deprived the EWS category of students as they lack the basic resourced required to access such online classes such as mobile, laptops and internet connection. The plea also states that exposure to screens for hours might be harmful for the eye sight of students. They can also be exposed to threats of cyber-bullying, sexual exploitation and extortion.

The plea added, “Thus the assertion of the petitioners that online education being run in an unregulated manner, without considering the impact of the same on students, gains further credence and ought to be remedied by this Hon’ble court… a few schools have also attempted to charge exorbitant and additional amounts under the garb of charging tuition fees which is unethical and unnecessary.”

“It is in this context that the right to life and education of the children of the country ought to be protected by the respective Government by making arrangements to take care of their financial and developmental needs, especially during such trying times”

The plea prays for a waiver of any kind of monetary penalty on account of default of payment in school fees, commencing period from April 2020 and substantiates its assertions by relying on the concept of “Parens Patriae” which is applicable to the common people of the State who are undisputedly the victims of this calamity and that “the Central and State Governments are the guardian of its residents”.

The plea also seeks directions to the Government(s) to direct all private schools to only charge the “tuition fees” with no “hidden or additional charges contain therein from the enrolled students of such schools from April, May and June of 2020, not to strike out any enrolled students due to non-payment of school fees.

Source: Live Law

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