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Calcutta High Court orders physical opening of schools amid improved situation of Covid-19

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As the number of Covid-19 cases decreased in West Bengal and life limped back to normal in all spheres, the Calcutta High Court permitted schools to start physical classes.

A Bench comprising Justice I.P. Mukerji and Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya passed the order on Friday on a batch of petitions filed by several students and parents claiming that despite the closure of schools during the pandemic, they were being charged disproportionately high fees.

The school authorities, on their part, were aggrieved by non-payment or incomplete payment of fees by the students.

The state government had issued a notification on February 14, 2022, given a green signal to opening of primary and upper primary schools by February 16.

Given the situation, the High Court had passed an order on October 13, 2020 directing that schools and other educational institutions could only charge fees for essential services rendered online, with 20 percent deduction.

The Court has now decided to modify this order, as well as other interim orders passed in the matter. The modifications are:

  • From February 16, 2022, order permitting deduction of 20 percent of school fees stands vacated;
  • Schools and other educational institutions shall be permitted to charge fees according to their policy and arrangement with the students;
  • Up to February 28, 2022, students shall pay school fees for online classes according to the interim orders passed by the Court so far;
  • In case of any dispute between the school fees claimed and the school fees payable for the period up to today, 50 percent of the demand by the school or the admitted amount by the student, whichever is higher, has to be paid by March 15, 2022;
  • Till March 31, 2022 or until further orders, whichever is earlier, no coercive action like expulsion of any student from the school, withholding of admit card to sit for any Board or school examination, withholding of mark-sheets or certificates on the ground of default in payment of school fees, shall be taken by the schools.

Case name: Rajib Chakraborty and Ors vs the State of West Bengal and Ors

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