Srinagar: The J&K High Court has sought details of schools in Srinagar and Pulwama districts which are forcing students to pay fee for September and October last year, when Kashmir was hit by floods, despite its notice.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation—Parents Body Vs State, a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey also asked amicus curie, advocate G A Lone, to suggest names of few persons of high reputation who could be members of a committee of experts for making recommendations to deal with the “menace” of fleecing of parents and students by some schools on one or the other pretext.
As soon as hearing in the petition started, advocate Lone submitted that even though he has not received any serious complaint about most of the schools for quite some time, some schools in Pulwama and Srinagar continue to “harass the students and their parents and force them to pay fee for September and October.”
“Furnish the list of schools,” the bench responded.
Lone also argued that some schools were fleecing the children and their parents in the name of purchase of books, stationery and issuance of identity cards.
“Besides, teachers are exploited by many schools by paying them meager salary,” Lone said, urging the court to direct constitution of a committee of experts that will make recommendations “to deal with the menace which is rampant in some schools.”
Subsequently, the court requested Lone to suggest few persons of high reputation who could be members of the panel. Lone sought some time to suggest the names and was granted by the court.
“Interim directions issued from time to time to continue till next date before the bench,” the court added.
In January this year, the court had asked all private schools, put on notice by it, not to enforce fee by them till next date of hearing before the court.
“Till next date it is provided that these educational institutes shall not increase the fee,” the court had said.
The court through its registry has put 97 schools on notice for charging tuition fee and bus fare from students for September, when the Valley 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 had responded to the submissions by the counsel for the schools.
However, the court had closed proceedings regarding schools of district Ganderbal as the central Kashmir district was unaffected by the floods.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, advocate Lone filed an application on behalf of Akmali Welfare Trust, seeking directions to the schools (mentioned by it along with the plea) that the fee paid by the Trust in respect of poor and orphan children for September and October be adjusted for November-December 2014 .
The court issued notice, which was accepted by advocates Rifat Ara and Nasir Qadri on behalf of the schools.