Friday, the High Court of Calcutta
ordered that at least 50 percent of the tuition fees owed by students must be paid by defaulting parents within three weeks, failing which it will consider allowing the institutes involved in the dispute to take punitive action, including removing student names from the school scroll.
The court said it would also consider that for pupils who have passed the board exams for grades 10 and 12 and pass, “an instruction must be given to the respective boards to suspend” their qualification and certificates until that the tuition fees are paid. .
Expressing its displeasure with some of the financially stable parents who have allegedly taken advantage of the current pandemic situation not to pay their wards’ fees on time, a division bench comprising Judges IP Mukerji and Moushumi Bhattacharya ordered that the parents must pay at least 50 percent of the contribution within three weeks.
The magistracy has ordered the educational establishments concerned by this public interest dispute (PID) to send each defaulting tutor a notice within one week specifying the unpaid fees from March 2020.
The court said that if at the next court date there was a default, that court would consider allowing schools to suspend these students from attending online and physical classes or to “remove students’ names. from the school board without further notice. “
The court ordered the case to be resumed for a hearing on September 2.
The bench said that while many families are in financial difficulty in view of the Covid situation, school authorities are also struggling to manage institutions.
Lawyers representing the schools claimed in court that parents in a section of students were in default of payment of fees under an earlier High Court order, causing difficulties in the functioning of the institutions.
The bench hears a PIL from the guardians of students at a school in the Purba Medinipur district who has requested a reduction in tuition fees in West Bengal due to the current Covid pandemic situation.
The petitioners requested the application of a High Court order, issued on October 13, 2020, which directed 145 responding schools in another PIL to reduce fees by 20% for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The district court had ordered that day that there would be no increase in tuition fees in the 2020-21 fiscal year. It was further ordered that “non-essential charges for the use of unused facilities would not be allowed”.
The petitioners called for this ordinance to be applied to all students in schools in West Bengal for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“We are sad and upset to know that although the economic situation is much better now than in 2020 and most people have learned to adjust their lives to the current Covid-19 pandemic, quite a large number of parents and tutors of students from various schools and other educational institutions have taken advantage of this order by not paying tuition fees at all, “the magistracy observed in its order on Friday.
The bench said that if all educational institutions before it are factored in, the total amount of unpaid tuition fees rises to several crore of rupees.
“We are also told that a good number of defaulting parents are civil servants who have not suffered any loss of wages during this pandemic. It is also argued that a significant number of parents and guardians have the capacity to pay the costs. tuition but are deliberately not paying the contributions of educational institutions, ”noted the court.
Observing that educational institutions find it very difficult to maintain themselves, the judiciary said that at this stage it is necessary to balance the demands of schools and the needs of students.
“We believe that innocent students should not suffer for their lost parents and guardians,” the court observed.
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