The Supreme Court on Friday had declined to hear pleas from parents seeking inter alia, the waiving or moratorium of private school fees for COVID-19 lockdown and has requested them to approach high courts instead. The bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, A S Bopanna and R Subash Reddy has refused to entertain any more pleas nor going into the nitty-gritty of the issue. SC has observed that the fact-intensive situation requires probing by respective state high courts and that it would be a stroke of genius if petitioners could solve everybody’s problems.
“Problems of each state are different. It’s a situation where facts of all states must be considered individually. We don’t know how to solve the issue for the whole country, and that’s what you’ve prayed for.”
The plea had also sought charging of fees based only on the actual expenditure by schools towards conducting virtual classes, therefore, eliminating any additional charges from April 1 till the resumption of physical classes.
“The Petitioners belonging to different states of the country have come together being constrained to approach this Court seeking inter alia the protection of the fundamental right to life as well as education guaranteed under the Constitution of India, 1950 which the children & students enrolled up to the Class XII of various Indian states are being deprived of due to supervening factors namely, the ongoing pandemic- COVID-19 period,” the plea read.
The plea attempted to highlight various concerns that have sprung up due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The petitioners demanded deferment of fees by government and uphold the tenets of Right to Education in the “event of inability in payment of fees due to financial hardships of a parent, the protection which is provided for…in the constitution.”
———-NISA Press Release———-
Relief to schools, Supreme Court refuses to hear fee waiver petition today
– Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared on behalf of NISA
– Keeping in mind the different circumstances of different states, the court suggested the petitioners to go to the High Court
Private schools have received major relief on fee waiver issue from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear a petition directing private schools across the country to waive fees for three months. This petition was filed on behalf of parent associations of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The petitioners requested the Supreme Court to direct the April, May and June fee waiver orders and develop a system to regulate the structure and collection of fees during the period of lockdown across the country.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared the court on behalf of National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), a National congregation of private schools in India and apprised the court of various practical aspects related to the matter. After hearing both the parties, the court advised the petitioners to withdraw their complaint and to take the matter to the High Courts of the respective states.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice AS Bopanna refused to hear the petition of Sushil Sharma and others, stating that the issue of school fees should be raised before the High Courts of the respective states.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice said that the situation in each state is different. The petitioners have filed this petition for schools across the country. Justice Bobde said, “It’s a situation where facts of all states must be considered individually. We don’t know how to solve the issue for the whole country, and that’s what you’ve prayed for.”
National President of NISA, Dr. Kulbhushan Sharma welcomes the Supreme Court judgement of dismissing the petition filed by the parents associations of eight Indian states the Court was of the opinion that it cannot interfere at the Supreme Court level as there are different states’ orders and orders passed by various High Courts. This is not a time to debate inside the Court, I also urge all the parents of this country to support the education sector.
Now it’s time to accept the private schools of this country which contributes to the nation’s development. Let’s accept our work towards a good education system in this country. Also, NISA requests all the parents to understand the real problems in education and not to get into a trap of any political will behind targeting..
Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Schools
Bharat Arora, General Secretary, Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Schools appreciated the order of the Supreme Court on the petition (No. 622/2020; Sushil Sharma and Ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.). He said, “The order of Supreme Court is in the favor of thousands of schools. Schools are facing many problems due to Covid 19 but after this decision, the school community is feeling relieved.
“The Hon’ble Supreme Court today whilst hearing a petition filed by parents from all across the country, refused to entertain the same and dismissed it on the ground that the same was not maintainable,” explained Advocate Kamal Gupta. “It was observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the issues in every state are different from each other and there are High Courts that are dealing with those issues. It was also observed that the different orders passed by various High Courts cannot be a subject matter of challenge in one Writ Petition. The SLP has been dismissed as withdrawn with liberty to approach the jurisdictional High Courts for redressal of any grievances, if any, in the respective states. This order clearly implies that the orders passed by the respective State Governments, as modified, corrected, upheld, etc. by the respective High Courts, are binding upon the parents and have to be obeyed and complied with by one and all,” he added.