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SC allows private schools to collect 100% fees

SC stays Rajasthan HC order; allows private schools to collect 100% fees

February 8, 2021
-Bandana Brahmin

In a major relief to private school managements in Rajasthan who have been locked in a stalemate with parents due to confusing fee-discount orders of the state government, the Supreme Court has stayed the Rajasthan high court order of December 18, 2020 directing private schools to collect only 60-70 percent fees for the academic year 2020-21. In an interim passed today (February 8), the apex court allowed private school managements in Rajasthan to collect 100 percent fees (as announced in 2019-20) from students for the 2020-21 academic year in six monthly installments from March 5 to August 5, 2021.

However the bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari also ruled that private schools cannot debar any child from online/offline education and exams and/or withhold their exam results on the ground of non-payment of fees.

“We welcome this interim order. The Supreme Court has rightly understood the difficulties private schools are facing during this pandemic and has endorsed the right of private schools to collect fees against the services offered. I hope other states will take a cue from this judgement and allow private schools to collect full fees,” says Damodar Goyal, president of the Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan and member of the managing committee of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya, Jaipur, one of the schools which filed a petition in the Supreme Court.

Watch the interview with Damodar Goyal

The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by private schools challenging the Rajasthan High Court verdict (December 18) allowing private schools to charge fees as per the directive issued by the state education department. In October last year, the state education department had directed CBSE affiliated private schools in the state to collect 70 percent tuition fee while Rajasthan Board affiliated schools were allowed to charge 60 percent tuition fee.

The court also clarified that the installment arrangement will be independent of the fees which would be payable by students for the academic year 2021-2022. It also directed the state government to clear the outstanding dues with respect to unit costs in private unaided schools meant to cover the costs borne by them to teach 25 percent EWS students in accordance with the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 within one month from today.

Making provision for the parents who might actually be facing a financial crisis due to the pandemic, the court said that where the parents have difficulty paying the fees in accordance with this interim order, they can approach the school by an individual representation and the school management will “consider such representation on a case-to-case basis sympathetically.”

Parents and private school managements in Rajasthan have been locked in fees-related disputes since the Covid-19 prompted closure of schools in March last year and the series of fee-discount orders issued by the state education department have added to the chaos and confusion.

While the April 9 order of the education department directed private schools not charge fees for the three months of lockdown, the July 7 order asked schools to not charge fees till on-campus classes resumed. Meanwhile, the CBSE asked its affiliated schools to start online classes but the parents refused to pay the fees, citing the government orders, which further added to the mayhem.

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