High Court questions parents on their ‘hardships’ - ECAS Punjab

High Court questions parents on their ‘hardships’

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Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 15

Less than a week after private-unaided schools undertook to reduce, waive or defer fee payment in case of parents in dire straits following the Covid outbreak, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today verbally asked the parents why they should not be asked to demonstrate the hardships faced by them.

The verbal query came in response to the demand by the parents that the schools should be asked to come out with their balance sheets. Taking up the matter through videoconferencing this afternoon, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur verbally questioned the parents why they should not be asked to come out with their balance sheets for ascertaining whether they were indeed facing hardships.

The verbal query by the Bench came during the course of arguments and cannot be construed as a comment on the merits of the case. The matter is still pending before the Bench and is scheduled to come up for further hearing on June 19.

Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, during the course of arguments, also asked the state government to clarity whether it was in favour of deferring or waiving the remaining fee after its orders on schools charging just the tuition fee.

Appearing on behalf of the parents, advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri argued that a person nowhere in the world could be compelled to pay for services not utilised by him. In his written statement placed before the Bench, Bagri, among other things, stated the pandemic had resulted in "severe job losses across different sectors" in the country. It may take about two to three years for different businesses to recover from the impact.

"A majority of the respondents/parents of wards, who are studying in private unaided school, have lost their businesses, jobs or were not paid wages/salaries due to lockdown by their companies, organisations," he added.

In one of the petitions, Independent Schools' Association through counsel Aashish Chopra had contended the directives on charging only the tuition fee were illegal arbitrary, without jurisdiction and rationale. Punjab Advocate-General Atul Nanda, on the other hand, claimed there was no question of financial hardship since schools conducting online classes would continue to charge fee "in respect of such classes".

Representing no less than 3,500 schools, senior advocate Puneet Bali had, meanwhile, submitted the cases of parents in genuine distress would be considered on individual basis for fee waiver, reduction and deferment.



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