In a major relief to parents and private schools, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order on Tuesday, March 9, directing the state government not to take any coercive action against members of the Association of India Schools affiliated to central education boards and the state board for any violation of the government’s order mandating collection of only 70% of the tuition fee (charged for the previous academic year) for the current academic year.
The court also asked managements of the private unaided schools, which are members of the association, to be considerate on those children and their parents who, owing to the financial crisis prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, pay less fees than last year.
Justice R. Devdas passed the interim order on a petition filed by the association questioning the legality of the January 29, 2021 order.
Earlier, the association had assured the court that its members would voluntarily offer fee discounts to parents who are facing financial hardships due to the pandemic. The petitioner association contended that on February 7, 2019, the state government had given an undertaking to the court that it would not take any coercive action against its member-schools. In the previous proceedings, the association had challenged an amendment to the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, which sought to bring private unaided institutions into the ambit of the Act for certain pruposes.
Additionally, the petitioners had also challenged the authority of section 48 of the Act and validity of the 2018 Amendment Rules. They argued that when the amendment that sought to bring private unaided institutions within the purview of the Act was still being reviewed by the High Court, the state government had no authority to take coercive steps against against schools who violated the January 29 fee reduction order.
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