Lockdown period: SC allows 100% fee collection by Rajasthan schools

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Consider pleas for inability to pay sympathetically on case-to-case basis, it tells managements

The Supreme Court has stayed a Rajasthan High Court order to schools affiliated to Central and State secondary education boards to collect only 60% of the tuition fee for the lockdown period.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar instead allowed schools to collect the entire arrears in six monthly instalments from March to August 2021.

“The management/school may collect fees for the academic year 2019-2020 as well as 2020-2021 from the students, equivalent to fees amount notified for the academic year 2019-2020, in six monthly instalments commencing from March 5, 2021 and ending on August 5, 2021,” the court directed in the interim order, which may cause ripples across the country.

It said students should not be debarred from attending classes on account of non-payment.

“The management shall not debar any student from attending either online or physical classes on account of non-payment of fees, arrears/outstanding fees…” the court said on an appeal filed by parties, including some Catholic educational institutions, represented by advocate Romy Chacko.

In case parents have difficulty in paying the arrears, they should be allowed to approach the school authorities through individual representations. The managements would consider them on a “case-to-case basis sympathetically,” the apex court said.

The managements were also directed not to withhold the name of any student for Class 10 and 12 Board exams in 2021 because of non-payment of arrears. They should allow students to take the examinations after obtaining an undertaking from the parents to pay up.

“The arrangement will not affect collection of fees for the academic year 2021-2022, which would be payable by the students as and when it becomes due and payable, and as notified by the management/school.”

The court said the interim order would be subject to the final direction.

It fixed the next hearing for February 15.

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