The Supreme Court on Monday said educational institutions must reduce fees as their running costs have come down with various facilities provided on campus remaining closed. A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said the management of educational institutions should be sensitive to the problems faced by people due to the pandemic and take steps to provide succor to students and their parents in these harsh times.
“In law, the school management cannot be heard to collect fees in respect of activities and facilities which are, in fact, not provided to or availed of by its students due to circumstances beyond their control. Demanding fees even in respect of overheads on such activities would be nothing short of indulging in profiteering and commercialization,” the bench said.
The parents, who are demanding a cut in fees, told the bench that the schools have saved a colossal amount of money during the online classes towards electricity charges, water charges, stationery charges, and other miscellaneous charges which are required for the physical running of the school. Agreeing with the parents’ contention, the bench said, “Indeed, overheads and operational costs so saved would be nothing, but an amount undeservedly earned by the school without offering such facilities to the students during the relevant period. Without insisting on a mathematical exactitude approach, we would assume that the school management must have saved around 15 per cent of the annual school fees.”
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“The school management of the private unaided schools shall collect annual school fees from their students as fixed under the Act of 2016 for the academic year 201920, but by providing deduction of 15 per cent on that amount in lieu of unutilized facilities by students during the relevant period of the academic year 2020-21,” it said.