Allahabad High Court set to decide the plea on school fee waiver

Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Allahabad High Court is set to decide on a PIL concerning the waiver of 50% of school fees in Uttar Pradesh until the resumption of physical classes on 18th January.

The petition was filed by the High Court Bar Association along with the District Bar Association and other private parties against the State alleging the conduct of some private unaided schools in the State.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery directed the Standing Counsel to seek the necessary information from the State regarding the contentions of the petitioners and also on the application and execution of the Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Fee Regulation) Act 2018.

The petition stated that some private unaided schools in Uttar Pradesh are levying fees for Online Education at par with the Physical Education which is contradictory to the Uttar Pradesh Self-Financed Independent Schools (Fee Regulation) Act, 2018.

The said act seeks to regulate the conduct of private schools by directing them to limit their fees on reasonable standards.

The State Government, on 4th July 2020, declared that non-payment of fees can be no reason for debarring a student from online learning and thus, the student’s name should not be removed from the register.

The concerned plea referred to the contrary acts of some private schools and requested the High Court to look into the case.

According to the petitioners, there is no need to levy an amount equal to physical education since online classes are considered relatively cheaper.

The petitioners also demanded other extra fees including sport fees and library fees to be waived because they stand outside the scope of online education.

The fees for online classes can only be equated to tuition fees in exclusion of all such extra charges. “Charging of any fees, in addition to or over and above the Tuition fees’ is arbitrary and hit by Article 14 of the Constitution and hence unconstitutional and void,” the plea stated.

The petition sought certain other reliefs including a comprehensive framework by the Government for the charging of fees and Constitution of a Committee for the same.

It also requested the High Court to frame appropriate remedial measures keeping in view the importance of this case.

Thus, the plea recognizes relaxation of 50% of the school tuition fees until the commencement of physical classes as a mandatory provision for upholding the Constitutional principles.