The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed all private schools in West Bengal not to charge more than 80% fee in the year 2021-2022. The High Court also said all students must be allowed to attend online classes till July 31 even if their dues are pending.
All the private schools are conducting online classes as the educational institutions in the state remain closed due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), a bench of Justices Indra Prasanna Mukherjee and Mausami Bhattacharya said that the last year’s court order directing schools not to increase their fees, will be replicated this year too as physical classes have not yet begun.
The Calcutta High Court on October 13, 2020 barred schools from increasing their fees for 2020-2021 in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Justice Bhattacharya was part of the division bench which pronounced the order.
However, in their interim order on Friday, the High Court asked the parents to clear the school fees by June 15 or in four instalments till July 31. The court also said the schools can discontinue their facilities to students whose fee remains pending after July 31.
The High Court was hearing a PIL which had urged the implementation of its October 2020 order for this year as well. The two-judge bench scheduled the next date of hearing for June 18, and asked the petitioner to serve notices to West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Central Board of Secondary Education, and 145 schools which were part of the last year’s plea.
“As far as the case made out in the writ application is concerned, this is a fit case, considering the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, to be entertained as public interest litigation,” the court said while admitting the plea and started hearing the case.
A partial reopening of schools had started earlier this year after the fading of the first wave of the pandemic. However, the second and more deadly phase of Covid-19 in April saw all the educational institutions shut again.