Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 22
After the state of Punjab came out with notifications, memos and orders “making the functioning of private unaided schools virtually impossible” and putting them into “financial difficulties”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that one-time admission fee would be paid by parents in two equal instalments.
Putting to rest the controversy over payment of charges during the days of Covid lockdown, Justice Ritu Bahri made it clear that 70 per cent of the total school fee would be charged from the parents. Besides, 70 per cent salary would be paid to teachers during the pendency of a writ petition on the issue.
Justice Bahri also directed the state counsel to file a detailed reply and seek instructions on ways the state and other respondents could help private schools “with regard to amount deposited in the ‘reserved fund’ for sanitising the school buildings”.
The directions came on a petition by the Independent Schools’ Association, Chandigarh, and other petitioners through counsel Aashish Chopra. Among other things, Chopra contended a vital question of law for consideration before the Bench was whether the directives issued in impugned memo dated May 14 — on schools charging only the tuition fee — were illegal arbitrary, without jurisdiction and rationale.
Chopra said the memo had been issued without any authority of law and basis. “It is the inherent and inescapable right of private unaided schools to be able to generate funds to function and discharge their financial obligations. As such, the direction to the schools not to charge fee is unsustainable,” he added. While interim directions have been issued by the Bench, the question of law is yet to be decided.
Appearing before the Bench, Chopra contended the Punjab School Education Board had issued directions in the impugned memo that schools could charge only the tuition fee and not building, transportation and other expenses.
At the same time, the schools were directed not to reduce the teachers’ salary. “Both these conditions are contradictory, keeping in view that on the one side, parents are to be given concession of not depositing the full fees but on the other, schools are being directed not to reduce the salary of teachers,” Chopra argued.
He also submitted that all private unaided schools deposited amounts under the ‘reserved fund’ with the education board, which came out to be Rs 77 crore at present. Referring to the issue of sanitisation, he added it was being done by the private schools.
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