Balance interests of parents, teachers in pvt. schools: HC

Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 01 JULY 2020 00:20 ISTUPDATED: 01 JULY 2020 00:20 IST    

State govt. gets a week to come up with solution on collection of fees during lockdown

The Madras High Court on Tuesday granted a week’s time for the State government to come up with a solution to the issue of fee collection, balancing the interests of private educational institutions dependent on the fee for paying teachers’ salaries and that of middle class parents who cannot pay huge amounts due to lockdown.

Justice R. Mahadevan told Advocate General Vijay Narayan that the government could come up with some formula like collecting 70% of the fee now, in two or three instalments, and the rest after normalcy returns. He said that a decision could be taken after ascertaining the views of different associations of private schools and colleges.

He asked the A-G and Additional Government Pleader R. Vijay Kumar to get back to the court by July 8. The suggestions were given during the hearing of a batch of cases filed against a government order, issued by the Chief Secretary under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, on April 20, restraining schools and colleges from demanding fees.Advertising


Senior counsel K.M. Vijayan and Fr. Xavier Arulraj, besides advocates Hema Muralikrishnan and E. Vijay Anand, representing various associations, vehemently opposed the G.O. and said that the government should be directed to pay monthly salaries to all unaided private schoolteachers, who were also equally affected by the lockdown.

They also relied upon some High Courts in other States having stayed the operation of similar orders passed by the governments there. In reply, the A-G said that none of those government orders had been issued under the Disaster Management Act, as it had been done in Tamil Nadu, taking into account the difficulties faced by parents.

“In all these private schools, there is a 25% quota for admission of children from weaker sections of the society, under the RTE (Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education) Act of 2009. The government pays the fees for these children directly to the schools. On March 26, 2020, a government order was issued sanctioning ₹248.76 crore,” he said.

“This money will be sufficient for the schools to take care of their needs for the next two to three months. Further, not all schools have been conducting online classes during the lockdown. It is also not our intention not to pay salaries to teachers of private schools. We have to balance the interests of all when the whole country is undergoing untold hardship,” he said.

A balancing act

He also said the government was open to receiving representations from associations of private schools so that a balancing act could be worked out. Appreciating him for agreeing to consider petitioners’ grievances, the judge directed the associations to submit their suggestions to the government within two days.

State Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan brought to the notice of the judge that a public interest litigation petition had also been filed in the court, seeking strict implementation of the April 20 G.O. and that the case was slated to be heard by a division bench of the court on July 6.

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