Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee and Moushumi Bhattacharya, JJ., while addressing the matter wherein private unaided schools have debarred students from taking online course and examinations due to shortfall in payment of fees directed the schools to not to discontinue the same for the said students unconditionally till 15th August, 2020.

Petitioner represents the parents of over 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 private unaided schools in and around the city.

Principal Grievance

Private unaided schools in Calcutta and elsewhere in the State continue to demand regular fees though the schools have not functioned for the last four months.

Students barred from participating in online course

Petitioner claimed that online courses and examinations have been started by some of the 112 schools that are involved and students whose fees have not been cleared are barred from participating in the online course or taking online examination only on such ground.

State Government

Advocate General on behalf of the State Government submitted that time to time through several notifications State Government has called upon the private, unaided schools to refrain from increasing the fees and asked them to give concessions to students or parents.

High Court

“…in the absence of the boards or councils to which the 112 schools are affiliated, to ascertain whether such authorities wield any power to regulate the fees of their affiliated schools.”

Councils or Board to which the said 112 schools are affiliated have been asked to file their response before second Monday of August, 2020.

Schools shall also indicate as to whether all the employees of the schools have been paid during the period of lockdown and the extent of discount that such schools are able to afford to the students for the schools not functioning during the relevant period.

Further, State Government was also permitted to use an affidavit to disclose the several notifications that it has issued by way of advisories to the private, unaided schools. 

Bench asked the 112 schools involved not to discontinue making online courses available to any of its students, unconditionally till August 15, 2020.

None of the 112 schools will prohibit any of the students from participating in online examinations if any till August 15, 2020.

Adding the conclusion, Court also stated that by August 15, 2020, the outstanding dues of each student, as at July 31, 2020, have to be cleared to the extent of 80 per cent.

Students who have already been debarred from online courses or online examinations will be restored to their previous status.

Bench hoped that if substantial payments are made on behalf of the students who are in default, the relevant schools will not discontinue the online courses for any meagre shortfall in payment.  [Vineet Ruia v. State of W.B., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1230, decided on 21-07-2020]

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