Private Schools Can Collect Tuition Fees, Says Gujarat High Court
The Gujarat High Court has quashed a government order which prohibited private schools from collecting tuition fees until they reopened.
The Gujarat High Court has quashed a government order which prohibited private schools from collecting tuition fees until they reopened, saying such a fiat will force smaller schools to shut down. In a decision on July 31, uploaded on its website on Wednesday, the court set aside three clauses of a government resolution (GR) issued on July 16 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A "balance has to be struck between providing children a reasonable education and allowing the schools to stay afloat," a division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J B Pardilwala said. Not allowing schools to collect fees will force many smaller schools to close down permanently while not providing education to students for long will impact their cognitive and social development, the court said. Parents should realise that online education is not a futile effort on the part of the schools, the judges said.
At the same time, schools should be aware of the economic instability being faced by parents, the bench said. Quashing the relevant clauses in the GR, the court asked the government to "make all possible endeavour to strike a balance so as to protect the interest of the parents as well as the management of the private unaided schools".
"The adverse impacts of the situation created by the pandemic need to be shouldered by all stakeholders, and the community as a whole needs to be united in its fight. "The resolution and the actions of the state have the effect of dividing sections of the society," the court said. If smaller private schools close down, parents of students in these schools will be forced to cough up higher fees at bigger schools, the court pointed out.
The GR barred collection of tuition fees even when schools were offering online classes. Unions of private schools had challenged the government's order. The high court said schools can charge tuition fees which will cover expenditure on salary, establishment and curricular activities and maintenance.
"Why does the state not take steps to waive the collection of tuition fees by colleges," the court asked. "Teaching is a noble and charitable cause" and hence private schools should not collect tuition fees as long as they remain closed, the GR had said.