Taking up allegations of parents that a few schools were not adhering to its earlier interim order, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday said none of the 145 schools in West Bengal covered in a PIL over fees during the Covid pandemic will deny promotion to any student to the next session or withhold report cards till further orders. The court also reiterated its earlier direction that all students will be allowed to join the higher class in the new sessions and will be provided normal educational facilities.
Holding that G D Birla Centre for Education ought not to have issued a notice stating "the school will re-open on Monday, 11.4.2022 for students who have cleared all dues," a division bench comprising justices I P Mukerji and Moushumi Bhattacharya said the effect of this notification is that those students who have disputed the dues of the school would not be allowed to join classes. Directing G D Birla Centre for Education to immediately withdraw the notice and allow the students to attend classes in the usual course, the bench said all other schools will also follow the directions in this order.
The advocate for the school submitted that taking shelter behind the court's interim orders, some guardians were forwarding insignificant amounts as fees, much lower than what they paid in the last academic session, insisting that their wards be allowed to attend school. The court also noted allegations by a body of parents that numerous students have been debarred from joining classes on the ground that their fees remain unpaid. It had earlier directed that to ensure schools do not suffer any deficiency in funds, joint special officers appointed by it would go into the dispute regarding fee liability and come to a decision in the matter.
"Each of the guardians/students shall make payment of the fee determined as payable by the Joint Special Officers to the schools/teaching institutions within two weeks of such determination," the bench had said. Observing that any dispute during the period of operation of its interim orders regarding fee liability or its payment was to be referred to the joint special officers for determination, the bench directed that this be immediately done either by the school authorities or the guardians. The court asked the joint special officers to file a report before it on this issue by June 6.
It directed that for proper implementation of this order and also to ensure that there is no breach of peace or break down of law and order within or adjoining the school premises, the joint special officers will in the event of any such situation approach the officer-in-charge of the local police station. Physical attendance of students started in all schools in the state in March this year after Covid cases subsided.