SC: Private Unaided Minority Institutions to Seek Recall of HC Order Regulation Fees

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A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition. Private unaided minority educational institutions filed this challenging a Calcutta High Court order. The order was restricting them from stopping students from answering examinations for not paying fees.

Brief facts of the case

The impugned order is the 18.08.2020 order of the Calcutta High Court which arose out of several writ petitions filed by the parents. Over 15,000 students were debarred from appearing for the online 1examination on account of non-payment of fees. This Writ was filed against over 110 private and unaided schools across the city.

The Calcutta High Court had ruled in their favour and prohibited the schools from placing such restrictions.

In this SLP, private unaided minority institutions challenge the same.

Arguments

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, Advocate Rohit Amit Sthalekar, and Advocate Sankalp Narain represented the petitioner schools. They stated that the order infringes their right under Article 30(1). The Article confers the fundamental right to administer educational institutions of their choice.

They cited the 2016 case of Committee of Management, La Martiniere College, Lucknow v Vatsal Gupta & Ors. They referred to the Court’s observation that a writ petition is not maintainable against institutions that are a private unaided minority. 

Also, they referred to the direction that orders them to submit the audited books of accounts which shows the income/expenditure statements of the school. They argued that this direction causes the petitioners’ Minority rights are grave hardship and prejudice.

Further, they referred to the judgment in TM Pai v State (2002). It stated that when the matter relates to fees, the interference of the State should be the least. The State should abstain from such matters unless it discloses profiteering capitation fees. 

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that these special leave petitions do not call for any interference by them. Also, they granted the petitioners liberty to apply to the High Court concerned and pray for recall or modification of the same.

Also, they stated that until any decision is taken on this matter by the High Court on such an application, the order will not be given effect to. It will be kept in abeyance. 

Court’s Order

The bench comprised of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy, and Justice MR Shah. They disposed of this appeal and directed the petitioners to approach the High Court and seek recall of the impugned order.


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