By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 23: The Supreme Court has held that the Odisha government’s notification asking all private schools to follow the MoU arrived at between private institutions agreeing to waiver of fees in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic in a graded manner, will not be applicable to schools affiliated to Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) Board in the State.

A bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheswari and Justice Krishna Murari said, “As the Association of Odisha ICSE Schools is not party to the MoU and as per the observations of the Orissa High Court made in the judgment on January 7, 2021, the directive of fee waiver is not applicable to the members of the association imparting ICSE courses”, The New Indian Express reported.

The MoU was arrived at between 14 private educational institutions, with the mediation of the State, agreeing to waiver of fees in a graded manner on September 10, 2020. On January 7, the High Court had given the green signal to the State government on the MoU.

Accordingly, on January 19, the State government issued a notification requesting all private institutions to comply with the High Court judgment and implement the MoU. 

The Association of Odisha ICSE Schools had challenged it in the Supreme Court in a Special Leave Petition (SLP).

“It will be open to the State to interact with the association, if at all it intends to issue any direction against the schools registered with ICSE board and if any common arrangement is to be arrived at, appropriate notification or circular can be issued by the State government in accordance with law”, the bench said while disposing of the SLP on March 18.

In the event, arrangement specified in the proposed notification is not acceptable to the Association of Odisha ICSE Schools, it will be open for it to assail the same by way of substantive writ petition before the High Court which ought to be decided on its own merit and in accordance with law, the bench further said.

However, the three-judge bench did not express any opinion either on the merits of the claim of the association or the power vesting in the State to issue directions, as the case may be.

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