Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed the schools put to notice by it across the Valley not to force students to pay monthly fee for September and October last year till further orders.
“Theses institutes shall not compel the students to pay fee for September and October 2014,” said a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing a Public Interest Litigation—Parents Body Vs state and others.
The court through its registry has put 97 schools on notice for charging tuition fee and bus fare from students for September, when Kashmir was hit by the worst floods. In October, the people were still reeling under the aftermath of the deluge.
The directions followed despite submissions by the counsel for some schools that they opened their institutes immediately after the flood waters receded. “Be humanistic and have a human heart,” the court responded to the submissions by the counselfor the schools.
However, the court closed proceedings regarding schools of district Ganderbal as the central Kashmir district was least affected by the floods.
The directions came after amicus curie, Advocate G A Lone, submitted that he does not want to pursue the petition in respect of the schools following an affidavit submitted by them that their functioning was not affected by the deluge.
In wake of the unprecedented floods, the court has already directed Delhi Public School, Athwajan and New Convent High School, Gogjibagh, here not to charge tuition fee as well as bus fare from students for September and October. In case the tuition fee and bus fare for the two months has been received in advance or otherwise, the court has directed that it shall be adjusted in future months.
A few other schools including Malllison (Sheikh Bagh), Tyndale Biscoe, Burn Hall, New Era, Presentation Convent and Srinagar British School have already made a statement before the court that they will not charge the tuition fee and the bus fare for the two months.
In another direction, the court also asked all the private schools, put on notice, not to enforce fee by them till next date of hearing before the court in second week of February.
“Till next date it is provided that these educational institutes shall not increase the fee,” the court said.
On last date of hearing on December 22, the court had granted management of Delhi Public School, Budgam, to file affidavit clarifying their position in the response filed by advocate Lone to the school’s response to notice on fee for September and October.
Advocate Lone, citing reply by some parents, said the school may have remained open for some days in September and October but most of the students are residents of those areas of Srinagar which remained submerged.
“The roads leading to the school were also submerged and no transport was plying including on the road leading to the airport,” Lone said. He said the buses could neither run from the school where from students are boarded or was it not possible for school to ferry the students to and fro to their respective destinations.
Lone said the school has also addressed a letter to the parents on October 11, virtually accepting that school remained closed for most of the time in September and October.
“Yet (school) is insisting upon payment of fee for these months. It is really unfortunate that despite a sermon recorded in the first two paragraphs of the letter showing sympathy towards the students and their parents, the school management is insisting upon payment of fee for the period for which school remained closed,” Lone said.
He said the management of the DPS Budgam should have shown grace and followed ethics and exempted the payment of fee as has been done by its counterpart running in the name of DPS Athwajan.
“The charging of fee from the students will throw wrong signals that money could be obtained without providing facility, which is unconscionable and unfair,” Lone said.
“The school has not only charged fee from students for September and October but have also issued notice to the parents asking them to clear all dues (if any) up to February 2015,” Lone added.