Collection of fee by private schools: High Court issues notice

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued a notice in response to a petition challenging the ‘collection of fee by the private schools in Kashmir for the period they remained closed during the current unrest’, and directed the listing of the petition on Dec 6 in view of urgency expressed in the matter.

The petition, filed by advocate SH Thakur, who is himself the petitioner, has prayed for quashing the “announcement made by president Private Schools’ Association for the collection of the fee from July 2016 till date, terming such announcement as without authority, illegal, unfair and against the mandate of law.

The petition also seeks a command from the court for the implementation of SRO 123 by the government, besides a direction to the chairman, pay fixation committee to issue necessary order on the subject of collection of the tuition fee for the period when the private schools remained defunct.

The petitioner, who is an advocate in the High Court, pleads in the petition that he was compelled by the circumstances and exploitation of the parents by the private schools who have been forced to deposit the fee, despite the schools remaining closed from 8th July, 2016.

Pertinently, the academic session 2015-16 started in the month of November 2015. The schools closed for winter vacations on 3rd Dec 2015 and reopened on 14th March 2016. The schools worked till 5th of July 2016. According to Thakur the total working period of the schools during the entire session comes to about three months when they “are demanding the fee for the whole year.”

The petition pleads that the private schools were closed like government schools and no efforts were put in by them for restoring the educational activities nor they took any initiative of their own to start the schools and like other commercial establishments they too remained completely closed from July 8. “Some schools uploaded the assignments worth name in the month of September to justify the collection of fee and no teaching activity was carried out by them.”

The petitioner further pleads that the parents are supposed to pay the tuition fee subject to the condition that their children are taught by the teacher, the school renders the service of teaching. “But when the service is not made available by the private schools, how come they are entitled to charge the fee from the parents?”

The petition pleads that respondent no. 5 (president private schools association) without having any authority in law is issuing the orders for the collection of fee when he has neither the legal authority nor statutory authority to do so. “The respondent no. 6 (minister for education in Jammu and Kashmir) is watching as spectator to the acts of respondent no 5 indicating clearly that they are hand in glove with each other. The matter is serious one and needs to be probed and action initiated under the relevant laws against both respondents,” the petitioner pleads. (CNS)

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