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COVID-19: Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL seeking directions to waive off school tuition fee

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New Delhi | August 4, 2020 1:11:59 PM IST
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the Delhi government to take steps to waive off the school tuition fee amid the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan also expressed displeasure with the petitioner and counsel and asked why did you not apprised the court that a similar matter was already dismissed by the same court.

"This is clear misconduct," the bench said, after which advocate N Pradeep Sharma sought an apology from the High Court and withdrew the PIL as the court was not convinced by his arguments.

The plea, filed by one Naresh Kumar, prayed for the interpretation of Force Majeure clauses in the present pandemic situation and sought directions to the Directorate of Education, Government of NCT Delhi to take steps to waver off the school tuition fee.

According to the petition, the impact of COVID-19 is building by the day, supply chains are being significantly disrupted and businesses' rights and obligations under contracts are coming into sharp focus.

The plea said that private school administrations have been demanding school fee and other charges without rendering any services. It said that the school admission form does not have any clause that in case of an adverse situation, the school would charge tuition fees for providing online classes.

"The students are facing several side effects and such online classes offered by schools have other medical and psychological implications, which is against the concept of school education," the plea said.

"The schools are duty-bound to follow and abide the terms and conditions which are a part of school prospectus and if there is no Force Majeure clause in the school prospectus, demanding of tuition fee, without providing the actual education, is a violation of law in terms of a contract and also against the principle of natural justice," it added.

The plea said that it would not be out of the question to mention that the school prospectus does not contain any clause with respect to a pandemic or like situation and further that in such a condition, the school would provide online classes and charge tuition fees for the same.

It also said that the entire student community is facing a lot of problems to gain knowledge through the online education system.

"Some homework and class tests are required to be undertaken under the guidance of trained teachers so as to achieve, through the online way of teaching. It would be important to mention that private schools are either being run by the Society or trust and are not doing any social service to society. Even otherwise, the school is a service provider and thus is covered under the Consumer Act also," the plea said. (ANI)

 
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