The Chhattisgarh High Court has quashed the state government's order barring private schools from collecting fees from students during the coronavirus-induced lockdown and allowed them to collect only tuition fees and no additional fee till the situation normalises.
A bench of Justice P Sam Koshy passed the judgment on Monday on a petition challenging two state government orders issued in April asking all private educational institutions not to collect school fees from students during the lockdown period, the petitioner's lawyer Ashish Shrivastav said.
Bilaspur Private School Management Association Society, an association of 22 private schools in Bilaspur, had filed the petition demanding the two orders, issued by the state's Directorate of Public Instructions, be quashed.
The plea said for proper maintenance of schools and the infrastructure and also for timely payment of salary to staff, collection of tuition fees from students must be allowed, he said.
The association had said a substantial portion of the expenses incurred by educational institutions is recovered from the school fees/tuition fees, he added. "Until the situation normalises, schools must ensure that they would collect only tuition fees and not any other additional fees.
The educational institutions do not enhance or revise their tuition fees," the order said. "The educational institutions should also evolve and develop a mechanism to ensure online education facilities reach every student in their school. In a given situation where a candidate is not in a position to have access to the online education facility, the institutions should evolve a system of providing study materials to the students with which he can continue with his studies uninterrupted," it said.
"The petitioner and members of petitioner association should evolve some mechanism to cater to exceptional situations where a parent is not able to pay the fees for some genuine reasons," the judgement said.
"The salary of the staff, both teaching and non teaching, must be met first. No institution shall be permitted to withhold the salary part nor shall the schools reduce the salary of any of their existing staff," it added.