The Delhi High Court has asked a private school here to issue notice to parents of students, who are on default for payment of tuition fee for more than two months, before taking a call on discontinuing their access to ID and password for online education facility.

Justice Jayant Nath said in case the parents are able to convince or explain to the school their financial problems or financial inability to immediately pay the pending fees, the school shall not take any step for the time being.

“Where the parents are unable to satisfy/demonstrate to the petitioner [school] regarding their financial difficulties, the petitioner is free to communicate the same to the parents and decline to provide them ID and password for online education facility for students,” the High Court said.

It also clarified that in case the parents have any grievance against such an order passed by the school, they are free to approach the appropriate authority of the Delhi government.

The court’s order came on a petition by Queen Mary’s School, Northend, here challenging certain clauses in Delhi government’s April 18, 2020 circular directing all schools not to deny ID and password for getting online access of educational facilities to those students who are unable to pay school fees due to financial crisis arising out of closure of business activities.

Queen Mary’s School has also challenged the clause in the circular which states that nothing except tuition fee will be charged from the parents during the lockdown period.

‘School in crisis’

The school represented by advocate Romy Chacko submitted that taking unfair advantage of clauses in the circular, about 40% students are defaulting in payment of tuition fee, resulting in grave financial crisis to the petitioner. Mr. Chacko also pleaded that the school was struggling to pay the salaries of teachers and staffers.

The Delhi government’s counsel submitted that the school was free to take steps, including issuing of a notice to the parents of those students who are defaulting in payment of tuition fee. It said an opportunity may be given to the parents to explain as to whether they are suffering from any financial crisis. In case parents are not able to explain their financial problems, steps can be taken as per law by the school, the Delhi government said.

The High Court has also directed the Delhi government to respond to the plea by Queen Mary’s School challenging the April 18 circular and posted the case for further hearing on August 5.

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