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Schools’ demand for fees: Parents’ Calcutta HC relief maintained by SC

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New Delhi: The Calcutta High Court on August 18 had restrained six city schools from taking any “coercive action” against students who have not yet remitted their fees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The schools moved the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the top court rejected the schools’ plea, saying interference in the Calcutta High Court’s order was not called for in the matter.

The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subshash Reddy and M.R. Shah, heard the petition of the schools which are all governed by the Church of North India. These were the two La Martiniere schools, Pratt Memorial, St James’, St Thomas’ Howrah, and St John’s Diocesan School. Parents had petitioned the Calcutta High Court, seeking relief from the schools’ demand for immediate remittance of school fees.

The high court, in its order, had asked the schools to submit all their financial details to an expert committee, comprising Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das and former head of secondary board and higher secondary council, Gopa Dutta, by August 31.

School children in one of the schools in Srinagar/Photo: UNI

Senior Counsel Shyam Divan with advocates Rohit Amit Sthalekar, Sankalp Narain, representing the petitioner, had argued that the order impinged upon their right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution and should be set aside. The counsel further argued that this order of the high court is not maintainable since a direction for the institutions to turn in their audited books of accounts prejudices the minority institutions’ rights.

The top court, however, noted that interference in the Calcutta High Court’s order of August 18 is not called for in the matter. The apex court asked the petitioners to approach the High Court for seeking the recall or modification of its order.

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The apex court has ordered that the schools have been granted the liberty to file an application before the high court, “for recall or modification of the order dated 18.08.20.” The order also states that until orders are passed on the application of the petitioner, the high court order of August 18 will be kept in abeyance.

Read the order here;

Sc-on-Cal-HC-Order

-India Legal Bureau

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