The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to consider the sufferings of parents and private educational institutions and formulate a scheme on collection of fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice R Mahadevan posted the matter for passing appropriate orders to July 8. The matter relates to a petition from All India Private Educational Institutions Association challenging a government order dated April 20 restraining all private schools and colleges across the state from demanding fee as fixed by the fee fixation committee by citing the COVID-19 outbreak.
The state government earlier submitted that its order only restrains private schools and colleges from compelling parents to pay fees and parents are welcome to pay fees if they are willing to.
The judge directed the petitioner to submit a detailed representation with respect to equalities and feasibilities after considering the financial constraints of parents as well as the educational institutions.
The detailed representations should be based not on the fee fixation committee but based on the sufferings of parents and the institutions.
The judge ordered that the representations be sent through mail to the government by Wednesday evening and also send a copy to the Advocate General.
The judge further directed the government to consider the representations and take a decision and report it to the court on July 8.
When the matter came up, Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted, "Considering the present situation, we have instructed the institutions not to collect the fees."
Parents are welcome to pay the school/college fee of their children, if they are willing to and that the restriction is only against the institutions not to compel the parents to pay, the advocate general said.
Moreover, the state has already sanctioned Rs 248.79 crore to such institutions towards the reimbursement for 25 per cent of seats allotted under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. With this amount they can manage for at least for two to three months, he said.
He further submitted that the fee has not been waived for the lockdown period as at some point of time the institutions are going to get back the money.
"We have to consider the plight of the parents who are affected by the ongoing crisis also. Many have lost their livelihood," Narayan said.