Due to global pandemic of COVID -19 a huge financial distress can be seen in life of people and in such conditions when schools are closed a PIL was issued by a social worker who asked schools in petition to waive off 50 % school fee as during this time of pandemic some people are not even to have food on their table huge sum of fee is a big deal.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice KK Tated heard the PIL by Dr.Binu Varghese. Social worker in his PIL seek following reliefs :
Schools to charge only 50 %of total school fee considering global pandemic and ours affects in mind .
That direction to waive off the school fees during pandemic lockdown to be given starting from 23rd March 2020;
Waiving off of the online sessions from class nursery to 4th standard.
To avoid unnecessary expenses of projects this academic year .
State government to take actions if any of the school is found violating the specified guidelines and school not to reopen before the vaccine for this virus of corona is not found out.
Advocate Padma Shelatkar appeared on behalf of the petitioner and AGP MM Pabale for the State.
“Although relief has primarily been claimed against “the schools”, the management of not a single school has been impleaded as a respondent by the PIL petitioner. Obviously, granting the prayers of the PIL petition in the absence of the schools would amount to breach of principles of natural justice. We are conscious of the position in law that the Court may add the schools as respondents but no explanation has been furnished why the PIL petitioner did not implead at least some of them as respondents. This is one reason for declining interference.”
Furthermore, the bench pointed out –
“The other reason for declining interference is this. There is a general statement made by the PIL petitioner that parents of school going children are in financial distress. If at all the statement is correct, nothing prevents such parents to approach the Government in a group and seek framing of guidelines for reducing the quantum of tuition fees as well as for other relief during the period of lockdown considering their plight. Apart from the requisite facts and figures based on which a guideline could be framed being absent in this PIL petition, it would require a policy decision to be adopted. In matters relating to academic policy, the courts ought to stay at a distance.”
And thus the petition was dismissed but the order dismissed nowhere mentions that aggrieved party cannot seek for remedy from law.
By: Ritika Negi of LCD