A School can initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of fees from defaulting parents/ students in strict adherence to the law: Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and Justice C. T. Ravikumar

In the case of Progressive Schools Association v. The State of Rajasthan & Anr. (2021) C.A. 1736/ 2021, a miscellaneous application (No. 1399/ 2021), the appellant asked for a clarification in an earlier judgement given by the court on May 03, 2021, in the case of Progressive Schools Association v. The State of Rajasthan & Anr. (2021) C.A. 1724/ 2021, wherein paragraph 117 of the judgement allowed the school to take coercive action against the students and their parents for the payment of the school fees whilst deterring from debarring any student from attending either on-line or physical classes on account of the non-payment of the said outstanding fees. The judgement barred the school from withholding the examination result of any defaulting student owing to the non-payment of any/ part of the school fees; additionally, the judgement asked the appellant to consider the representation of any defaulting student/ parent (who find it difficult to pay the school fees for the academic year 2020-2021) sympathetically on a case-by-case basis whilst allowing the said parents to pay the outstanding fees by way of instalments; however, the appellant in the present case contend that some parents have not paid their outstanding fees even after the expiry of the last date for paying the instalments of the outstanding fees as referred in the aforementioned judgement.

The two-judge bench of Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and Justice C. T. Ravikumar held that the school (the appellant) can initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of the said fees of the defaulting parents in strict adherence to the law, subject to the compassionate consideration of the representation of any defaulting parent. If the final decision of the appellant in the process of recovery is unacceptable to the parent/s in the way of the appellant demanding excessive fees beyond the amount stated in the judgement of May 03 of the Supreme Court, then the said parent/s can move to an appropriate forum.

The miscellaneous application was rejected by the bench whilst holding that the states cannot use the reason of the ongoing pandemic in the way of government notifications to override the autonomy of the private, unaided schools in collecting the just and permissible fees from the defaulting parent/s by notifying to collect lesser fees from parent/s in the background of the pandemic.

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