The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Director of School Education of Madhya Pradesh to compile details regarding the compliance with directions given by the state high court last year that schools can recover only tuition fees from students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Madhya Pradesh High Court had also said in last year’s November 4 order that there shall not be an increment in fee for the academic session 2020-21.
It had further stated that when the government declares pandemic is over and schools return to normal physical functioning, the district committee shall within 30 days from such declaration take a decision on the increment of fees for the remaining period of the session. The apex court, which was hearing pleas against the high court order, said the details received from the respective district committees regarding the compliance with directions given to the schools shall be displayed on the official website of the education department of the state.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said if the students of the academic year 2020-2021 have any grievance regarding non-compliance of directions given by the high court, they can make representation to the district-level committee. We direct the Director, school education, of the state of Madhya Pradesh to compile the details from the respective district committees about compliances made by the concerned schools within the concerned district and display that information on the official website of the education department of the state of Madhya Pradesh, the bench said, adding the high court order pertained to academic session 2020-2021.
It said if the data displayed by the education department on the official website is discrepant in any manner, it would be open for the schools to bring that to the notice of the concerned authority. During the arguments, advocate Mayank Kshirsagar, appearing for some of the petitioners who are parents, argued that the high court had said that schools can only charge tuition fee but there was no protection in case of non-payment of fee.
Kshirsagar claimed that some of the schools have clubbed other charges in the tuition fees. “You have to ask your officers to ensure that order of the high court is implemented in letter and spirit,” the bench told the counsel appearing for the state.
The high court had passed the order on a batch of petitions filed by parents, teachers or employees of unaided CBSE schools and others which emanated from the notifications issued last year by the Central Board of Secondary Education and school education department of Madhya Pradesh regarding payment of fee in private unaided schools amid the COVID-19 induced lockdown period during the pandemic. It had also directed that salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff shall be regularly paid on the due date. In case if any reduced salary is paid, the reduction shall not be more than 20 per cent and arrears towards the reduced amount shall be paid with the restoration of normalcy in six monthly equal instalments, the high court had said.
It had said these directions were issued under the unprecedented situation and would be prevalent till the pandemic era and would not be treated as a precedent in future with the restoration of normalcy.