The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed private schools in the State to offer 20% reduction of fees across the board from April 2020 till the month following the one in which the schools reopen physically.
A Division Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya, while hearing a number of writ petitions filed by parents and guardians, said there will no increase in fees during financial year 2020-21 and non-essential charges for use of facilities not availed will not be permissible.
The court also observed that for the financial year 2020-21, a maximum of five per cent excess of revenue over expenditure will be permissible. While accepting the autonomy and freedom that private unaided schools generally enjoy, the Bench observed that “it is completely unacceptable that schools have not incurred less expenditure than usual since the lockdown came to be in force from or about the end of March this year”.
The court also added that every school will entertain applications from parents or guardians for further reduction or waiver or exemption or delayed or instalment payments, as the case may be. “Such applications have to be filed before the respective schools by November 15, 2020 and every application should be dealt with on an individual basis and a decision communicated to the applicant by December 31, 2020,” the order read.
If the parents or guardians are aggrieved by the decision of the school, an application may be filed, upon deposit of ₹1,000/ to a committee constituted by the court. Laying down procedures for the functioning of the committee the Court said that the “Committee must endeavour to dispose of every application within 45 days of the receipt thereof and the decision of the committee will be binding”.
A section of parents and guardians have been demanding reduction in school fees in the State. There have been protests outside several private schools. A group of parents approached the Calcutta High Court earlier this year and later parents or guardians of students of about 145 schools, mostly in and around the city, joined the petition demanding waiver or reduction of school fees as the schools were physically closed. The court will take up the matter again on December 7.