Schools Permitted to Initiate Necessary Action for Recovering Pending Fees: SC
The Supreme Court of India in Progressive Schools Association vs. The State of Rajasthan & Anr. –Civil Appeal No 1736/2021, issued a clarification on its earlier judgment dated 03.05.2021 and permitted the schools to initiate necessary action against students who failed to pay the installments as enumerated in the judgment. The court additionally reiterated that any such recovery procedure should be done in strict adherence to the law.
A two-judge Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar held:
“It is rightly pointed out by the School Management that the last date for paying the installments referred to in the stated judgment has already expired long back and despite that there are some parents/wards who are still in arrears and have committed default. It is open to the School Management to initiate appropriate action for recovery of the outstanding dues/amount, if any, in accordance with law.”
The Court, in its judgment dated 03.05.2021, had directed the School Management to refrain from debarring any student from attending online or physical classes owing to non-payment of fees, arrears/outstanding fees, or payment of installment as specified in the said judgment. The Court had further directed that the School Management while adhering to the conditions laid down shall also not withhold results of the students on the above accounts. The School Management was additionally given instructions to be considerate of the situation of the parents’ inability to pay on compassionate grounds. These directions were given in light of the Covid-19 situation that had added to the financial distress of countless citizens; parents of students being among them.
The petitioners brought to the attention of the Court that despite the provision and advantage given to the parents of payment of fees in installments, parents had failed to deposit the fees not only defeating the purpose of such facilitation but also adding to the woes of the School Management.
The Court concurring with the petitioners’ submission said:
The spirit of the direction given in the stated judgment was to give time to the concerned parent/ward to pay the fees as specified therein — including by way of installments. That does not and did not extricate the parent/ward from the liability to pay the amount specified in the judgment in any manner.
Establishing the liability of the parents to deposit the fees the Court also called for the School Management’s consideration in handling parents who continue to remain in financial duress. However, this was offered as a suggestion and the final discretion was to rest with the School Management. The court additionally stated that all procedures of recovery must be made in adherence to law while saying:
We reiterate that the recovery process should be strictly in accordance with law, and the pronouncement of this Court vide judgment dated 03.05.2021 in Civil Appeal No.1724 of 2021 and connected cases should be strictly adhered to by all concerned in its letter and spirit.
Accordingly, the Court clarifying its earlier judgment disposed of the appeal.
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL