The Karnataka High Court recently sought the response of the State government in a batch of petitions challenging a January 29 government notification directing private, unaided educational institutions to collect only 70 percent fees for the academic year 2020-21 and to refrain from collecting other charges.
A single-judge Bench of Justice R Devdas issued the notice to the State government and directed the government to file its statement of objections within 10 days.
The Court said it would hear the matter immediately after the statement of objections are filed by the respondents.
The petition moved by Associated Managements of Primary & Secondary Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) said that it has around 3,655 private unaided budget schools as its members. The schools have around 55,000 teaching and non-teaching staff and 15 lakh students.
It submitted that in order to pay salaries to the teaching and non-teaching staff, the schools are dependent on the fees paid by the students.
However, such unaided private educational institutions, are not able to pay the salary and others benefits to their teaching and non-teaching staff till date due to the reasons that parents are not coming forward to pay the fees.
The petitioner contended that if the management of the private unaided schools do not pay the salary and other allowances, both teaching and nonteaching staff may search for other jobs. In such a scenario, once the schools reopen, there may be a dearth of staff members, it was submitted.
Besides, it was also pointed out that the management of the private schools must meet various commitments such as payment of provident fund, ESI benefits, various taxes, electricity and water charges, security systems maintenance.
It was the petitioner’s contention that the notification dated January 29 issued by the State government is contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of TMA Pai Foundation and others Vs State of Karnataka.
Earlier, the petitioner had on March 31, 2020 sent a representation to the authorities highlighting these aspects after the Education Department had issued an order not to admit students for academic year 2020-21 and not to collect the fees from the students for the previous academic year 2019-20 and current academic year until further orders.
However, there was no response to that representation prompting the petitioner to approach the High Court.
The said petition was disposed of in September 2020 with a direction to the respondents to take a decision on the petitioner’s representation.
The said action was supposed to be completed in 3 months as per the direction of the Court. The January 29 notification is violative of the aforesaid Court order as well, the petition contended.
The petitioner, therefore, prayed for quashing the said notification and sought a direction to the State to consider the petitioner’s representation.