Delhi HC
Source: Times of India

Numerous appeals, including one by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) government, have been submitted in the Delhi High Court against its single judge’s decision permitting private unaided recognized schools to take annual and development school fees from students for the period after the lockdown ended in Delhi last year. The requests moved in Delhi HC on behalf of the students studying in the private unaided schools. They have contended that the single judge’s ruling was based on inaccurate facts and law.

The single judge, in his May 31 judgment had quelled 2 office orders of April and August 2020. The orders were issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE) of the Delhi government forbidding and postponing the collection of annual charges and development school fees. They said that they were “ultra vires” and “illegal” the powers of the respondent (DoE) specified under the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act and the Rules.

The single judge had mentioned that the Delhi government has no authority to indefinitely postpone the collection of annual charges and development fees by private unaided schools. As it would unreasonably constrain their functioning. The Delhi government, in its plea, filed through its standing counsel Santosh K Tripathi, has argued that its orders of April and August last year were published in the larger public interest as due to the lockdown people were in financial problem.

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The DoE has asserted that charging fees are not the only reference for augmenting the income. Therefore, any statement to the contrary will not only be prejudicial to the concern of the private unaided schools. It will be difficult to rectify them. The DoE has stated, “Schools, if unregulated, will conclude their fee pattern’ according to their whims and fancies’. Therefore, it was duty-bound to not enable any other head of payments other than those essential to be charged as ‘fees’.”

The pleas on behalf of the students have contended that establishment costs, like administrative expenses, repairing of buildings, rent, and hostel expenses, are not acceptable when the schools are closed.

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They have also alleged that the charging of annual and development fees was only deferred and not halted and the schools could have charged the same once the pandemic crisis normalized.

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