Supreme Court Allows Schools To Recover Fees From Parents, Students Who Defaulted
The Supreme Court has allowed school managements to take legal action if students do not pay the fee instalments on time.
On May 3, the court had said that states cannot undermine the autonomy of private unaided schools to fix and collect “just” and “permissible” school fees especially in the name of the pandemic.
Challenging Rajasthan Govt Order
The verdict came in a series of appeals filed by private unaided schools in Rajasthan against government notifications to defer/reduce school fees due to the aftermath of pandemic (lockdown) from March 2020.
The Rajasthan Government order permitted CBSE schools in the state to collect only 70% and state board schools to collect only 60% of the annual school fee.
Some parents had refused to pay despite the judgment.
The court made the ruling in response to a plea requesting clarification of its order in May directing schools to not debar any student from attending on account of non-payment of fees.
Court Gives Clarity
A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar recently clarified the May judgment and said that it “does not prohibit the schools from taking coercive action against the students who have failed to pay the instalments”.
The intention of the judgment was to give time to the parent/ward concerned to pay the fees, including by way of instalments.
However, that does not remove the liability on the parent/ward to pay the amount specified.
Legal Action Allowed Against Defaulters
It acknowledged the fact that the last date for paying the installments referred to in the stated judgment has long since expired.
Despite that, there are parents/wards who are still in arrears and have committed default.
To that end, the School Management is empowered to take appropriate action for recovery of the outstanding dues in accordance with law.
Consider Requests Of Those With Genuine Reasons
They have also been advised to consider requests for indulgence to parents with genuine reasons out of compassion.
It said that individual requests citing difficulties in payment of annual fees for the academic year 2020-2021 must be considered on a case-to-case basis sympathetically.
The defaulters can appeal against the final decision of the School Management if it is considered to be unacceptable due to being “excessive and beyond the permissible amount in terms of the judgment dated 03.05.2021.”