The Supreme Court of India has refused to entertain a Delhi government plea that termed collection of fees by private schools for April-August 2020 as “illegal”.
The Delhi government had approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court quashed its order that gave relief to parents by stopping private schools from collecting tuition fees.
The apex court did not put a stay on the Delhi High Court order of May 30 that said the Delhi government’s orders of April and August 2020 which did not allow schools to collect fees was “illegal”.
The Delhi High Court did not agree with the Kejriwal government’s order which asked private schools to indefinitely postpone collection of fees. The court said it would unreasonably restrict functioning of schools.
Referring to an earlier Supreme Court judgment, a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said the private schools should deduct 15% in fees against the unutilised facilities for the given academic year. Parents would be allowed six monthly instalments to pay the fees.
The apex court has now asked the petitioners (Delhi government, parents and students) to approach a division bench of the Delhi High Court in case they want further hearing of their grievances.
The Delhi government’s contention
The Delhi government argued before the top court that its order preventing private schools from collecting fees was right because the lockdown imposed as a result of the pandemic has financially impacted lakhs of parents and they need respite. The Delhi government’s plea in the SC was supported by parents and students.
Online classes have become the norm since the pandemic first stuck last year in March. Telangana has decided to restart physical classes and Karnataka too is contemplating offline classes, but most states have decided to play it safe by keeping the schools closed in view of the third wave which is likely to affect children the most.
The Union government too has made its stand amply clear by focusing on vaccination. “Schools require teachers and children to sit together. It gives the virus an opportunity to spread. We can only have this (re-opening of schools) when a large part of the population is protected,” Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said last week.