The Chhattisgarh High Court has quashed the government orders prohibiting private unaided schools from collecting tuition fees from its students or recovering outstanding dues.
The bench of Justice P. Sam Koshy has made it clear that the State cannot issue such "blanket orders" precluding private schools from collecting fees, as it would "adversely affect their right to carry any occupation, trade or business guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India."
The Court has permitted all the schools associated with the Petitioner-society, Bilaspur Private School Management Association Society, to collect tuition fees from their students, including the outstanding fees of the previous academic session.
This order is however made subject to the following conditions:
The order has been passed in suit with the observations made by the High Courts of Delhi, Punjab & Haryana and Kerala, permitting educational institutions to collect tution fees, in order to meet their infrastructural expenses and run online classes.
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The bench proceeded to observe that it is important to permit collection of tution fee not only to enable these institutions to meet their daily expenses but also to enable them to take preventive measures, such as sanitization of premises, maintaining distance between the students while attending classes, etc. upon re-opening.
"Expecting the educational institutions to undertake all such requirement and formalities and also ensuring all such safety measures without collecting fees whatsoever from the students does not in the opinion of this court seems to be justified, nor is it logical under any circumstances," the bench remarked.
The bench agreed that that there may be some individual cases where a parent is not in a position to pay the fees for his/her ward. To remedy such cases, the Court has directed the Schools to evolve some mechanism to cater to exceptional situations where a parent is not able to pay the fees for some genuine reasons.
"It is directed that in the event if any of the parent is facing any acute financial crisis whereby there being no means whatsoever to pay the school fees, let such parent/parents approach the respective school authorities, who in turn shall consider the same and if required can also get it duly verified or scrutinized on their own asking the parent to provide such necessary informations with which it could be assessed, whether he is in a position to pay the fees or not, by seeking such information like financial status of the parents, the income details of the parents so also the assets in the name of the parents etc. and thereafter pass a suitable order," the bench directed.
So far as proper access to online classes is concerned, the Schools have been directed to evolve and develop a mechanism to ensure that online education facilities reach to every student in the school.
"In a given situation where a candidate is not in a position to have an access to the online education facility, the institutions should evolve a system of providing such study materials to the students with which the students can continue with his/her studies uninterrupted," the bench suggested.
Case Title: Bilaspur Private School Management Association Society v. State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.
Case No.: WP (C) No. 1040/2020
Quorum: Justice P. Sam Koshy
Appearance: Advocate Ashish Shrivastava (for Petitioner); Addl. Advocate General Vivek Ranjan Tiwari (for State); Advocates Kshitiz Sharma, Anand Mohan Tiwari and Abhijeet Sarkar (for Interveners)
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