Can’t regulate fee under Disaster Mgmt Act: High Court - ECAS Punjab

Can’t regulate fee under Disaster Mgmt Act: High Court

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Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday made it clear that directives such as deferring or exempting the payment of fee could not be passed under the Disaster Management Act or the Epidemic Disease Act.

The judgment

  • Justice Nirmaljit Kaur asserted the government directive on charging only the tuition fee was "not a factor to control the disease and may not technically fall within the ambit of Disaster Management Act, 2005, or the Epidemic Disease Act"

Allowing the schools to collect admission and tuition fee, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur asserted the Punjab Government directive on charging only the tuition fee was "not a factor to control the disease and may not technically fall within the ambit of Disaster Management Act, 2005, or the Epidemic Disease Act".

At the same time, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur said steps such as lockdown to control and reduce the risk definitely resulted in loss of business, work and earnings leading to financial crunch and hardships to many. As such, the state's concern to mitigate the effects through temporary measures was not totally out of line.

Referring to Advocate-General Atul Nanda's arguments that courts could not interfere in policy decision, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur asserted that the writ was filed by unaided educational institutions receiving no help from the state. But they were required to pay salaries and maintain the institutions "without the corresponding right to recover the expenditure from their only source of income, i.e. the school fee from students".

Justice Nirmaljit Kaur added that schools not providing online education were still required to meet the expenses, including salary, building, electricity etc. As such, direction to institutions not imparting online classes against charging fee was "definitely discriminatory and arbitrary".

She said schools required basic tuition fee to maintain and fulfil their requirements and infrastructure lest they were forced to close down, which would not be in the interest of the state, the parents or the children.



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