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Delhi HC allows school to deny online education in non-payment of tuition fees

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The court clarifies that those parents who can satisfy the school of his/her financial distress may be given a breather

The Delhi High Court has allowed Queen Mary School Northend to refuse online education to those students who have not paid their tuition fees and the parents are unable to satisfy the school authorities regarding their financial difficulties.

The bench of Justice Jayant Nath was hearing a petition filed by Queen Mary School, seeking to quash the circular dated April 18, 2020 and to allow the petitioner school to charge the actual expenditure incurred by it during the lockdown period in the form of fees from the students.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that taking unfair advantage of clause (viii), of the circular, which states “in no case, the ID and password shall be denied for getting online access of educational facilities/classes/materials to those students who are unable to pay the school fee due to financial crisis arising out of closure of business activities”about 40 percent of the students are defaulting in payment of tuition fee resulting in grave financial crisis to the petitioner.

The petitioner further submitted that they are struggling to pay the salaries of the staff and the teachers.

The petitioner further pointed out that the division bench of the high court, in its judgment of April 24, 2020, had stated that this provision should not be misused and it would be necessary for the parents seeking benefit of this relief to establish to the satisfaction of the school or the DoE that owing to the lockdown, they are financially incapacitated from paying the tuition fee.

The bench directed the petitioner that “where the parents are in default for payment of tuition fee for more than two months, the petitioner is free to issue an appropriate notice to such parents to explain the reason for the default. In case the parents are able to convince/demonstrate to the petitioner about their financial problems/financial incapacity to immediately pay the pending fees, the petitioner shall not take any further steps for the time being against such parents. Where the parents are unable to satisfy/demonstrate to the petitioner regarding their financial difficulties, the petitioner is free to so communicate the same to the parents and decline to provide them ID and password for online education facility for the students.”

The bench further clarified that in case the parents have any grievance against such an order passed by the petitioner school, the parents are free to approach appropriate authority of the Government of NCT of Delhi.

The bench has issued notice in the petition and listed the matter for next hearing on August 5.

– India Legal Bureau

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