Shimla, August 24
In a major relief to private schools of the state, including Lawrence School Sanawar, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday allowed the private schools to charge monthly tuition fees and also enforce its collection without charging any fine or late fees charges.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed the judgment on two petitions, one filed by the Independent School Associations comprising of 45 schools seeking quashing of notification issued by the Director Education restraining the private schools to charge fee and another filed by a parent against Lawrence School Sanawar, seeking fee waiver for the session 2020-21 and refund of the already received fees by the school excluding tuition fees.
The court also directed the state to examine the issue of difference between residential/non-residential/partially residential school vis-a-vis applicability of any direction which will be issued by the state.
While passing these directions the court observed that “the Additional Advocate General could not justify as to why even the tuition fee has not been permitted to be collected compulsorily by the private schools. This is rather an illogical and arbitrary condition. In case, the privately managed schools cannot authoritatively charge even the ‘tuition fee’ then it is beyond comprehension as to how they will pay the monthly salary/emoluments to their staff. It cannot be assumed that private schools have unending supply of reserve funds with them.”
The court further directed the state government to revisit and re-examine all the conditions imposed by it upon private schools in its communication issued on May 27, 2020 whereby it had directed the privately managed schools not to charge any fee from students except tuition fee.
It further directed the government to take a fresh decision within a period of four weeks.
The court has also given liberty to the schools and other stakeholders to submit their representations on the issues involved to the Director Education within a period of one week.
It further observed that “we cannot lose sight of the fact that by and large wards of affluent/reasonably well off families study in the private schools. Private schools are sought after because of the status and reputation they enjoy. These schools may have been closed temporarily but are required to maintain their already created infrastructure and instructional facilities. Their recognition and affiliation also depends upon compliance of these aspects. These schools are not financially aided by the state government”.
The court further clarified that while revisiting the notification, the state should examine feasibility of allowing the schools to enforce attendance of their staff in the school premises, for the purpose of imparting proper, good quality education.
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