In response to a Petition filed by a practicing lawyer by the name of Rajat Vats, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi passed an order directing schools to abstain from collecting consolidated fees and thereby only demand for the tuition fees from students.
The Petitioner had filed the present Petition praying to the High Court to issue a writ of Mandamus directing the Respondents to grant relaxation or suspend fees of private schools in the State of Delhi and NCR on account of COVID-19 outbreak. Mr. Vats added that, since schools were not functioning due to the nationwide lockdown, tuition fee shall also be postponed. He further stressed upon the fact that a number of parents had already deposited extra fee, apart from the tuition fee, and thus requested the Hon’ble Court to make appropriate adjustments to return back their money.
In response to the Petitioner, Mr Ramesh Singh, Counsel for the Respondent submitted that the Directorate of Education had already passed an order in context of the said issue on 17.04.2020 which directed schools to not charge any fees other than the tuition fees from students. He also requested the High Court to not take any decision regarding the advance fees deposited by certain parents as the same would be looked upon by the Government on its own motion.
Justice Pratibha M. Singh, taking cognizance of the said matter directed schools to not charge any fees other than the tuition fee and that the said fee shall be demanded on monthly basis. She further directed the schools to not increase the school fee for academic year 2020-21. Directions were also given to the schools running on the land allotted by the DDA/Other Land Owning Agencies with the condition to seek approval of Director (Education) before any fee increase, to collect the tuition fee on the basis of the last fee structure approved by Director (Education) or as per fee statement filed by them under 17 (3) of Delhi School Education Act & Rules, 1973 during academic session 2015-16.
While directing schools to provide access to online education/material/classes to all students, without any discrimination, Justice Pratibha M. Singh stated as follows, “even those students who are unable to pay school fee due to financial crisis, course-work and other material is being made available to them. Such students are also permitted to avail of online classes. It is further clear that schools cannot deny access of online classes and other educational facilities due to non-payment of fees.”
The Court however said that charging of tuition fee by schools was justified.