The present Writ Petition has been recently moved to the High Court of Delhi by the Petitioner, Amit Sahni, seeking directions to all the private and unaided schools to waive the fees and charges during the period of lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 virus, and till the time the schools become fully operational. The petition also seeks directions to be issued to the Government of Delhi to provide sufficient funds to the schools to meet their bare liabilities such as salary of staff and other expenses.
However, the High Court of Delhi is only hearing urgent matters through video conferencing as the court functioning has been suspended during the period of lockdown, and the honourable Court has refused to give an urgent hearing to the present petition.
Submissions by the Petitioner
The Petitioner states that the relief sought in the present petition is in the public interest as it would relieve hundreds of parents who are suffering from financial constraints and are not able to manage their finances due to the situation created by the outbreak of COVID-19.
The petitioner submits that unlike other State Governments, the Government of Delhi has not taken any step to issue directions to the schools to not pressurise the parents for paying the school fees and charges of their children considering the financial constraints caused due to nationwide lockdown. In order to substantiate the argument, the petitioner refers to the Haryana Government’s direction which was issued to all the unaided and private schools stating that they shall not pressurise their students or parents to deposit fees or charges till the schools become operational and in a situation wherein the school violates the direction, strict disciplinary action must be taken against such school.
The petitioner specifically highlights the plight of the parents who are engaged in unorganised sectors as the petition states
“Although the government has directed everyone not to deduct salary of employees, private sector, particularly those working in the unorganised sector, are facing difficulties in paying school fees as many of them are not getting complete salaries and many are getting salaries after deduction. For instance, even some media houses have deducted the salary of their staff in order to face the financial crisis”.
The petitioner further submits that initially the lockdown was envisaged for 21 days, however, due to the extension of the same till March 3, 2020, has caused a complete loss of income to various households.
The petitioner further claims against the Directorate of Education and the Ministry of Education that online classes given to the students during the time of lockdown cannot be compared with the actual physical lectures as no infrastructure is being used in the online sessions, as the schools are shut since March 2020. The petitioner further highlights that due to the usage of online classes, the expenses of the schools have considerably reduced and taking the same into consideration, the fees of the students should be wavered for the time being.
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