Government Resolution On Fee Hike Won't Apply To Private Unaided Schools: High Court
The Bombay High Court has noted that the Maharashtra government resolution asking schools not to increase fees for the academic year 2020-21 is prospective in nature and will not apply to private unaided schools that have already fixed/declared their fee for the period.
The Bombay High Court has noted that the Maharashtra government resolution asking schools not to increase fees for the academic year 2020-21 is prospective in nature and will not apply to private unaided schools that have already fixed/declared their fee for the period. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni on Monday said the government resolution of May 8, 2020 does not and cannot be construed as a direction for refund of any fees already collected for 2020-21.
The order, copy of which was made available on Tuesday, was passed in a bunch of petitions filed by an association of private unaided schools and other private educational institutions. The petitions had challenged the resolution directing private unaided schools across the state not to increase their fees for the academic year 2020-21 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitions claimed that several schools had already determined and fixed their fee structure as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act for the year 2020-21 before the resolution was issued. As per the petitions, such fee structure has also been accepted and implemented.
The court in its order noted that the interest of justice would be sufficiently served if the state government considers the issues in regard to each educational institution, on a case-to-case basis, in the event any application or complaint is received. The court said if any complaint is filed by a parent against a particular school for increasing the fees for the year 2020-21 in violation of the Act, then the said school shall not debar the student from attending online/physical classes or examinations on account of non-payment of only the increased component of the fees.
"It is clarified that the protection is only granted in the peculiar circumstances existing on account of the pandemic and therefore only for the academic year 2020-21," the order said. The court said this order does not prevent the educational institutions from taking action against students who are in arrears or have defaulted payment of fees for earlier academic years. While hearing the petitions in June 2020, another bench of the High Court had granted an interim stay on operation of the GR. The bench headed by Chief Justice Datta on Monday vacated the stay and disposed of the petitions.