Friday, February 3, 2023

Delhi High Court issues notice on plea challenging order that allowed private schools to collect annual charges, development fees

The single judge had directed to pay the annual charges and development fees by the concerned students in six monthly instalments w.e.f. 10.06.2021.

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The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice on a plea challenging the single judge order which had quashed the orders passed by the Directorate of Education, Delhi Government, and allowed the Private schools to collect annual charges and development fees from students till the physical opening of schools. 

However, the Delhi High Court has refused to stay the Single Judge bench order. The vacation bench of Justices Rekha Palli and Amit Bansal was hearing the batch of appeals filed by Students and the Directorate of Education. 

“Please dont just be a populice government saying that oh we have done this. It’s not a short term lockdown, things were different. The Delhi govt should give some money to the schools,” the bench said. 

The single judge had directed to pay the annual charges and development fees by the concerned students in six monthly instalments w.e.f. 10.06.2021. 

Today the division bench said, “Let the first installment be made. I am Inclined to issue notice. They have to pay all taxes.”

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh appearing for the Directorate of Education subtitled that buses are not being used. Schools are shut. Transportation charges are not being levied. 

Justice Rekha Palli replied, Drivers are not to be paid. Haven’t you read Justice Jyoti Singh’s judgment? 

Singh replied parents are being harassed. 

Justice Rekha Palli said what parents are being harasssed. Delhi govt has been saying that it’s schools are good. The parents chose to send their children to private school. We will issue notice but not stay.   

“We cannot stay the order, but we will issue the notice. We will examine the issue,” said the Court. 

On stay application the court said, “ on stay, learned Senior Counsel Vikas singh has raised four grounds primarily. The First is that Ld single judge in passing the order by Overlooking the fact that the judgment of the Rajasthan was in a completely different scenario. Under 142 article SC passed the judgment which is not available to the HC. Ld single judge has failed to consider the fact that tuition fees was allowed to be collected. Finally he says that the ld single judge that the similar Circular was already considered by the division bench. Powers of the DOE.” 

The Court further noted the arguments of Learned Senior Advocate Shyam Divan for the respondents/private schools. “He submits that the very premise that the single judge has analysed the DSE and only after this he has proceeded to pass the order. He says that any order by the govt … No fee has been increased. More specially since the single judge has given time to the parents and various other safeguards for the parents, however he assures the court that next academic year, the respondents will follow the same principle as has been laid down.”

“We are rejecting the stay application,” the Court Said. 

The Court would hear the matter next on July 10, 2021. 

The Delhi High court last month had quashed orders issued by the Directorate of Education on a plea filed by the association of private unaided schools as it prevented unaided recognised schools/members from collecting a part of the fees i.e. the annual charges and development fees even beyond the lockdown period, till physical opening of schools.

The Single judge bench of Justice Jayant Nath had noted in his order that it cannot be said the school building is completely shut. The building would remain functional for administrative reasons and even, depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case, for conducting online classes etc. There are expenses like rent, taxes, repair and maintenance of building and maintenance of equipment etc. In case, the said repairs and expenses are not done, it is bound to cause damage to the building, infrastructure and functioning of schools.

Read Also: Supreme Court directs Haryana Govt, Faridabad civic body to vacate encroached upon Aravalli forest land within 6 weeks

“The private recognised unaided schools are clearly dependent only on the fees collected to cover their salary, establishment and all other expenditure on the schools. Any regulations or order which seeks to restrict or indefinitely postpone their powers to collect normal and usual fee as is sought to be done by the impugned orders is bound to create grave financial prejudice and harm to the schools,” said the Delhi High Court.

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