Orissa High Court closes petitions challenging fees charged by private schools amid COVID-19 after MoU between schools, parents and State

The Memorandum was recorded by the Secretary, School and Mass Education Department, following a meeting between representatives of the schools, parents and teachers.
Orissa High Court closes petitions challenging fees charged by private schools amid COVID-19 after MoU between schools, parents and State
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The Orissa High Court on Thursday disposed of a batch of petitions praying for a waiver in school fees charged by private unaided schools in the State for the year 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bench Chief Justice Dr S Muralidhar and Dr Justice BR Sarangi, closed the petitions after the private unaided schools party to the case submitted that they had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the waiver of fees.

The Memorandum was recorded by the Secretary, School and Mass Education Department, following a meeting between representatives of the schools, parents and teachers.

Overview of what the MoU provides:

  • Waiver of maximum of 26% Tuition/ composite fee for institutions where fees is above Rs. 1 lakh per annum; separate slab rates, based on the fee amount.

  • Schools charging fees up to Rs. 6,000/- need not offer any waiver.

  • Waiver of 'Other Optional Fees' till reopening of schools. However, the charges on Transport and Food shall remain.

  • A flat waiver of 30% on Hostel fees.

In light of the terms of the Memorandum, the Bench observed that it was not persuaded to further issue directions in the matter.

However, persons aggrieved by the terms of the Memorandum could agitate their concerns in separate proceedings and appropriate measures taken on a case-to-case basis, the Court made clear.

"While this Court has recorded the fact of the MOU having been entered into, this will not preclude individual institutions or parties, who may be aggrieved or who may have a different point of view than that recorded in the MOU, or seek strict enforcement of the terms and conditions of recognition or grant of NOC as set out in the Resolution dated 23rd September 1996, from seeking appropriate reliefs in separate proceedings as are permissible to them in accordance with law," the order stated.

At early stages of the proceeding, the State Government had expressed its inability to intervene in the matter, pointing out that the Orissa Education Act, 1969 did not make a provision for the same. However, the State placed on record its willingness to ascribe to the MoU, should the Court accept the same.

The Court also refused to entertain concerns raised by certain minority institutions that had expressed apprehensions in relation to the terms of the MoU, reiterating that individual concerns could be agitated on a case-to-case basis.

With these observations, among others, the matter was closed.

Read the Judgment:

Attachment
PDF
Mohammed Mustaq Ansari v. State of Odisha.pdf
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