The Kerala High Court on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 dismissed a PIL against the collection of school fees during coronavirus lockdown period. Two students of Sree Buddha Central School, Sreelekshmi S. and Dhanvin M. Pillai approached the High Court seeking to direct the Government to issue directions to the schools conducting online classes to ensure that no student is denied the same if they fail to pay the fee.
The students submitted that, during the lockdown from March to May, 2020, though the schools were closed and online classes commenced from June 2020, the students have been asked to pay tuition fees from March to May as well.
Further, regarding the Kerala school fees he bench comprising of the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly agreed with the contention on behalf of the school that during the lock down period, monthly salaries for the teaching and non-teaching staff have to be paid. The court also observed that the maintenance expenditure of the school should also be considered.
“The main contention of the petitioners is that no fee should be collected during the lock down period. As rightly contended by the learned counsel for the respondents 6 and 7, whether there is lock down or not, monthly salaries for the teaching and non-teaching staff have to be paid. Though not contended, judicial notice can be taken that maintenance expenditure is a factor to be considered. Considering the fact that there is no change in the fees for the last year and the current year, and for other reasons stated supra, the demand of the petitioners that no fees can be collected during the lock down period cannot be accepted”, the bench held.
“As per CBSE guidelines, revision of fee is subject to the laws or regulations framed by the appropriate government. Though according to the learned counsel for the petitioner, things are not different in other States, decisions of the States stated supra, cannot be said to have a uniform application throughout the country, as each State is empowered to take a decision.”
The court also added that it cannot issue any direction to the government to prescribe a uniform fee in all the CBSE schools and added that in other states in India like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, the government issued guidelines that fees be collected on monthly basis and not deny course material or online classes to any students.
The court clarified that the dismissal will not be a bar to consider the request of the petitioners for making monthly payment. The case was referred to the division bench by a single bench in view of the “substantial public interest involved”.
Source: Live LawNews, States