The Karnataka High Court on September 16 directed educational institutions to waive 15% of the private schools' fees for the academic year 2020-21. The Karnataka HC stated that the fee cut under the Karnataka Education Act is in lieu of the unutilised school facilities owing to COVID-19 restraints. The court further emphasised that no pupil should be barred from attending classes, online or physical, due to non-payment of fees, arrears or outstanding fees inclusive of instalments.
Justice R Devdas said, "The petitioner-institution (school management of the concerned private unaided school) shall collect annual school fees from their students as fixed under the Act of 1995 of the academic year 2019-20, but by providing deduction of '15 per cent' on that amount, in lieu of unutilised facilities by the students during the relevant period of the academic year 2020-21."
The Karnataka HC was hearing a batch of petitions filed by the Private Unaided Schools and Association of such schools. It was contended that the petitioners are Private Unaided Schools, imparting academics and syllabus prescribed by the Central Boards such as ICSE, CBSE, etc. Because these Private Unaided Schools are affiliated to these boards, the State Government order dated January 29, 2021, was not binding on the aforementioned schools which are not affiliated to the State board.
Pursuant to the January order, several Private Unaided Schools reached the Karnataka HC and staged protests in Bengaluru. The unrest was subsequent to inaction to their proposal of a 15% concession on school fees and because the order dated January 29, 2021, directed the school management to not collect more than 70% of their fees.
Further, while disposing of the petitions of several private unaided schools, Justice R Devdas said the school managements were free to offer further concession or come up with a different pattern on concession. Also, the Karnataka HC said that these directions will bear no effect on the collection and concession of fees in the academic year 2021-22.