Queen Mary's School
Queen Mary's School

Delhi HC allows school to refuse online education to students who have not paid tuition fee in spite of no financial incapacity

The Court has issued notice in a petition preferred by a school against the Delhi Government's order directing private unaided schools to charge only tuition fee on account COVID-19 pandemic.

The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petition preferred by a school against the Delhi Government's order directing private unaided schools to charge only tuition fee on account COVID-19 pandemic. (Queen Mary School, Northend vs GNCT of Delhi)

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Notice to the Delhi Government was issued by a single Judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath in a petition by Queen Mary School, Northend (Petitioner).

The Court has also allowed the Petitioner School to refuse online education to those students who have not paid tuition fee for more than two month, in spite of no financial incapacity

In April, the Delhi Government had directed private unaided schools in the city to charge only tuition fee from students till further notice.

The order had directed the heads of the schools to ensure that in no case, ID & Password for online education is denied to those who are unable to pay the school fee due to financial crisis arising out of closure of business activities in the ongoing lockdown condition.

It is the Petitioner's grievance that taking unfair advantage of the order, about 40% of the students defaulted in payment of tuition fee.

As a result, the Petitioner was struggling to pay the salaries of the staff and the teachers, it was said.

The Petitioner has contended that the Delhi Government's order has no basis in the Disaster Management Act or The Epidemic Diseases Act, and was also in violation of Delhi School Education Act.

Claiming that "Right to fix the fee" was a fundamental right under Article 30 and 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution of India, the Petitioner has said that the Delhi Government failed to take into account the expenses incurred for a variety of measures including sanitisation, setting up online classes, maintaining buses used for transport etc.

The Petitioner School thus seeks a direction to allow it to charge the actual expenditure incurred by it during the lockdown period in the form of fees from the students.

While seeking interim relief in the matter, the Petitioner pointed out an order passed by the Division Bench in which it was stated that direction with respect to access to online education should not be misused and that parents would have to satisfy the school or the Department of Education about their financial incapacity.

With respect to the direction to mandatorily provide access to online education, Delhi Government said that the Petitioner was free to issue notice and give an opportunity to defaulting parents to explain as to whether they were suffering from any financial crisis.

Those who unable to satisfy/demonstrate their financial problems, steps can be taken by the school as per law, Delhi Government said.

In view of the submission, the Court ordered that where parents are in default for payment of tuition fee for more than two months, the Petitioner School was free to issue an appropriate notice to such parents to explain the reason for the default.

In case the parents are able to convince/demonstrate to the petitioner about their financial problems/financial incapacity to immediately pay the pending fees, the petitioner shall not take any further steps for the time being against such parents. Where the parents are unable to satisfy/demonstrate to the petitioner regarding their financial difficulties, the petitioner is free to so communicate the same to the parents and decline to provide them ID and Password for online education facility for the students.
Delhi High Court ordered.

The Court added that if parents have any grievance against an order passed by the Oetitioner School, the parents were free to approach appropriate authority of the Delhi Government.

The Court has given three weeks' time to the Delhi Government to respond to the petition.

The matter would be heard next on August 5.

Petitioner was represented by Advocates Romy Chacko, Shakti Chand Jaidwl, Varun Mudgal.

Delhi Government was represented by Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh with Advocates Santosh Tripathi, Bhawna Kataria.

Read the Order:

Queen Mary Order.pdf
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