Chandigarh, June 30: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday allowed private schools in Punjab to collect tuition fee. The high court also permitted them to collect admission fee.

The high court bench of Justice Nirmajlit Kaur said that irrespective of whether schools offered online classes during the lockdown period or not, they are entitled to collect the tuition fee, The Hindustan Times reported.

However, the schools have been restrained from increasing the fee for the year 2020-21.

On May 14, the high court had allowed private schools in Punjab to charge 70% fee from students for the 2020-21 academic year as an interim measure. The court had also allowed schools to charge admission fee in two instalments in six months and further directed that teachers in these schools would have to be paid 70% of their salaries.

It had acted on a petition from the Independent Schools’ Association, Chandigarh, with member schools in Punjab, after the association had contested the government move to allow schools to charge only tuition fee during the lockdown and not building, transportation and meals charges.

The schools had argued that if not allowed to collect fee, how would they pay teachers.

The decision to allow the collection of 70% of the fee had resulted in parents resorting to protests in large parts of the state. Subsequently, the state government and scores of parent bodies had become party in the dispute.

The court clarified that no child will be deprived of attending school and online classes if fee is not deposited by the parent. However, the same is subject to the parent of such a child moving an application before the school on financial hardship.

As for other charges, the school managements have been asked to work out the actual expenditure incurred under the annual charges for the period the school remained closed and recover only such expenditure incurred by them, including actual transport charges and actual building charges. These charges can’t be recovered for the period for any activity or facility towards which no expenditure is incurred.

The court said that any parent not able to pay the school fee may file their application along with necessary proof about their financial status, which shall be looked into by the school. In case the parent is still aggrieved, he or she can approach a fee regulatory body against the school’s decision.

As for the schools facing financial hardships, the institution concerned may move a representation to the district education officer along with its proof. The DEO shall look into it and pass appropriate orders within three weeks.

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