The Calcutta High Court had earlier fixed the August 15 deadline on July 21. And the deadline has not been extended further in the August 10 hearing.
A division bench of Justice Sanjeev Bandopadhyay and Justice Mausumi Bhattacharya of the Calcutta High Court on Monday directed the parents of various private schools to clear the outstanding dues upto July 31 by August 15. The court had earlier fixed this deadline in its July 21 hearing session, and it was not extended further. The next hearing of the case is on August 18.
According to Ayon Chakraborty, representing an English medium school, the judges have said that the school could take “necessary action” if parents failed to pay 80 per cent of the arrears by the deadline mentioned. The division bench further asked the petitioner that he could not comment or respond on social media regarding the increase or collection of school fees. Petitioner Vineet Ruia mentioned that independent schools are asking for regular fees from the students even after four months of non-functioning. He further elaborated that schools have been barring students from attending online classes whose fees have not been cleared.
On July 21, a division bench of Justice Bandopadhyay had directed that even if the parents were not able to pay the arrears in full by August 15, at least 80 per cent of the fees will have to be paid. However, even if the parents failed to give it within the specified timeline, the schools have to continue online classes with the students. On the other hand, the judges said that if the fee is not paid, the schools will be in a position to take action. Parents fear private school authorities will then have the right to not allow online classes if they do not receive a fee.
Considering the coronavirus crisis situation, the parents on Monday also filed a petition in the court for waiver of school fees. The Parents' Association named ‘United Guardians Association’ has applied to join the case in the next hearing. Supriya Bhattacharya, on behalf of the organisation, said, “It is very difficult for most parents to pay the 80 per cent fee that the court has directed. Many parents have lost their jobs in the lockdown. Many have received less salaries than before. I hope that the honorable Judge will do justice under the interest of humanity considering all the grievances of the parents at the next hearing.”
The division bench directed that all the private schools which want to be involved in the case can submit their statements in the form of affidavits. At least 45 private schools were added in Monday’s hearing.
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