Rajib Chakraborty & Ors. vs. State of West Bengal & Ors.

Facts

In present case the application has been filed in the form of Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

The instant case the Court was hearing a bunch of PILs filed by aggrieved parents seeking a partial remission of school fees for the session 2021-2022 due to the ongoing pandemic owing to which students are attending schools only through virtual mediums.

In its earlier order dated 4.6.21 the Bench had passed an interim order directing school authorities to not expel any student and avail them to access online classes on the fulfilment of the following conditions:

  1. The arrear fees as claimed by the aggrieved schools have to be paid by the students entirely by 15th June, 2021 or if that is not possible, in four equal monthly instalments. The first instalment has to be paid by the 15th day of each month commencing from 15th June, 2021.
  2. The aggrieved school authorities will charge 80% of the school fees for each month of the 2021- 2022 session. The norms for computation of the fees have been specified in an earlier order of the Court dated 13.10.20 titled Vineet Ruia vs. Principal Secretary, Department of School Education, Government of West Bengal and Ors. These fees together with the arrear instalment shall have to be paid by month by month by the 15th of each month, commencing from 15th June, 2021. By this date the current fees for May, 2021 have to be paid.
  3. In case there is any default as on 31st July 2021 in respect of arrear or current fee payment, the aggrieved school authorities will be at liberty to suspend online classes for the student but shall not remove the student from the rolls of the school without the leave of this Court.

During the hearing on Friday, the counsel for the school authorities had brought to the notice of the Court that a substantial number of students had not paid the remitted school fees yet, taking advantage of the order passed by the Court restraining authorities from expelling the concerned students. As a result, the school authorities sought leave of the Court to expel such students.

However, the Bench refused to allow school authorities to expel students until a determination has been made by the Court on the next date of hearing

Court Observation’s

The Court is of the view that:

“We make it clear that if on the returnable date we find that such default is continuing, we shall, after hearing any representation on behalf of the students and in the absence of good cause being shown, permit the schools to remove the name of those defaulters whose name is in the said list, from the rolls of the school.”

Issue

In the instant case the school authorities to expel students for non-payment of fees in the absence of good cause shown for default.

Judgement

In the light of the above submission the Honourable Court therefore directed that:

The school authorities to prepare a list of students who are defaulters in the payment of school fees which shall be handed over to the Court on the next date of hearing. Notice of this should be given to the guardians of those students by the school’s authorities. Furthermore, the Court warned the school authorities to not take any measures to expel the students or to discontinue their study until further directions of the Court. The Court opined that such directions shall apply to all the schools and other teaching institutions in West Bengal. Accordingly, the State was ordered to file its counter affidavit by July 14 following which the petitioners had to file their reply by July 28, 2021.

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