Independent Schools Association and seven other petitioners approached Punjab & Haryana High Court against fee order of UT education department in which department directed the schools to reschedule the last date for depositing fee. High Court had asked education department to give a chance to schools to make their point in front of the department and to take appropriate measures after that. Principle secretary, education, UT administration granted a hearing on May 15 in compliance with the orders passed by High Courts and permitted private schools to collect only tuition fee on monthly basis from parents during lockdown and directed schools to pay to ensure timely and complete payment to teaching and non-teaching staff.
“Private unaided schools are permitted to collect only tuition fee on monthly basis from students till further orders. The last date to deposit tuition fee shall be the 15th day of every month from June. However, fee for April and May is to be collected by May 31. No late fee is to be charged up to May 31” the order said.
Order also directed schools to take sympathetic view if any parent is unable to pay fee and do not strike out name of any child for non-payment of fee and to provide access to online education/material/classes to all students without any discrimination during the lockdown. “In case, any parent is not in a position to deposit the fee on time due to adverse financial circumstances, such request will be considered sympathetically on case-to-case basis. However, neither name of any student is to be struck off nor he/she is to be deprived of online teaching.”said the order.
But according to parents, UT education department’s permission to collect only tuition fee and not to collect any other charges like development or annual charges will not unburden them financially, as all private schools have merged various heads under tuition fee in 2017 itself. This merging of various heads under tuition fee was done as the education department then was preparing to adopt the Punjab regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institution Act, 2016. This act would not have allowed private schools to charge fee under separate heads and fee hike would also have been capped at 8%. CBSE bylaws also require schools to charge fee only under those heads prescribed by the department of school education.
Normally annual charges were paid along with the first quarter tuition fee. On an average, these annual charges are approximately Rs 15,000- 20,000 per year. But schools had divided this amount and merged with tuition fee payable quarterly. However, schools justified this by stating that this division was done to reduce the burden on parents at the beginning of the year.
Some parents said the order of education department was worse than neighboring states of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi where the fee hike had been stayed by the respective governments. “When we are supposed to open links, make kids watch YouTube videos and then make them write on note books. If we have to do everything, why should we pay to the school such a hefty amount?”asked Sartaj Khan, a parent.
Nitin Goyal, president, Chandigarh parents Association, said, “The order shows how cutoff the city’s bureaucrats are from the ground realities. Earlier, they deferred the payment of fee without any consultation with the public and now, they have practically ordered full payment of fee because most schools merged all the extra funds and charges in the tuition fees over two years back.”
For case specific advice, please contact Punjab Haryana High Court Best/Expert WRIT Lawyers Advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali.
This post is written Diwakar Ayaala
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