The Supreme Court on Monday declined to stay the Delhi High Court order allowing private unaided schools to collect annual fee and development charges from the students for the period after the lockdown ended in the national capital last year.
A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: “We are not inclined (to stay the order).”
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools, contended before the top court that the High Court reached an independent conclusion and the division bench is slated to hear the matter on July 12.
Divan argued that the single judge decided the case on merits and held executive decision as ultra vires. The High Court order allowed schools to collect annual fee and development charges from students with a 15 per cent deduction on total fee due to unutilized facilities during the lockdown amid the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Directorate of Education Government of NCT Delhi, insisted on staying the High Court order. He added that the Delhi government has not opened the schools since March last year. Singh said payment of annual fee and development charges, when schools are closed, would lead to harassment of lakhs of parents. “We have permitted full tuition fee. High Court says pay annual fee and development charges”, he added.
The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose, reiterated that it is not inclined to stay the High Court order and asked Singh to raise these contentions before the bench scheduled to hear the matter on July 12. “You argue before the division bench. State is not concerned here,” the bench noted.
The bench in its order said that considering that the division bench is hearing the matter on July 12, all contentions remain open and be raised before the division bench, and the dismissal of the petition does not reflect upon the merits of the case.
On June 7, the Delhi High Court had refused to stay its single-judge order allowing private unaided to collect annual and development charges from students for the period after the lockdown. The High Court had noted that if the government was so populist, it could help schools with some funds.
A vacation bench of Justices Rekha Palli and Amit Bansal issued notice and sought response of the Action Committee – Unaided Recognised, which represents over 450 schools, on the appeals of the AAP government, students and an NGO challenging the May 31, single judge order. The single judge bench said that schools shall collect annual fees with a deduction of 15 percent, as allowed by the top court in Indian School case, and the amount payable by students has to be paid in six monthly instalments from June 10.