Shimla, Jul 14
The Lawrence School, Sanawar, one of the most prestigious school in entire Asia having century old history, on tuesday, has been restrained by Himachal Pradesh High Court from receiving balance fee for the current academic year. The court directed the order while allowing a writ petition challenging demanding of another installment of fee by the school. The order passed by the division bench of HP High Court comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Joytsna Rewal Dua directed respondent Secretary Education of Himachal Pradesh and Head master of Lawrence School Sanawar to file reply or instructions before the next date of hearing on July 20,2020.
In a one page order issued by the court copy of which was with HimachalScape, said that notice should be issued to Advocate General who appeared in the court today and Respondent Boarding School through e-mail.
” In meanwhile Respondents are restrained from receiving the balance amount of fee as demanded by them to the tune of Rs 1,70,800 vide annexure P-5.” the order mentions baring the school from charging another installment.
The Court passed the order on the civil writ petition of Petitioner Deepak Gupta son of Gian Chand Gupta resident of Shimla moved in the court on July 7 on Tuesday who alleged that his son is in the 8th standard of the this boarding school. The petitioner stated that sending the boy in the school was a big decision taken by the parents for the betterment of the child’s future.
The petitioner said that respondent school had demanded a total fee amounting Rs 6,36,200 in month of January 2020. It was payable in two installments of Rs 4,01,700 and which included Rs 50,000 as personal expenses by the school which was paid by the petitioner before Feb 15, 2020. The second installment amounting to Rs 2,34,500 was payable to the school on or before July 15 2020. The children joined the schools from Feb 15 and remained in the school for 28 days. Thereafter were taken home on March 17 , 2020 following spread of Covid-19 Pandemic and lock-down subsequently.
The petitioner said that respondent State higher education vide a notification passed on May 27 directed all private schools of state that they cannot not charge any fee except tuition fee. Also the order had stated that tuition fee could not be collected on the quarterly basis. Moreover Schools also had to conduct the online and virtual classes.
The petitioner said that school authorities had not disclosed the actual tuition fee however perusal of the receipts indicates an amount Rs 69,960 toward the tuition fees for the financial years 2018-19. About 140 affected parents of children studying in this school had also sent a digitally signed representation. They had requested the school for waiving of the school fee. However, ignoring the request on July 3 school demanded an amount of Rs 1,70,800 instead of Rs 2,34,500 from the parents reducing the fee merely to an extent of 11 per cent ( Rs 63,700). The Fee has been reduced taking the expenditure of a child to Rs 270 per day however no break up of calculation was worked out by the authorities, he added. Moreover strangely, the top school also stated in a letter that if students joined back after normalization of the situation in the current academic year, an additional amount would be charged from the parents.
The boarding school started the online classes from April, 6 comprising of 120 students in one go, compared to regular classes wherein 20 to 30 students are taught in one section. Moreover there were no virtual classes during the vacation, no extracurricular activities like sports, no-participation of students in the boarding lodging, no meal from morning to evening , no clothes ,laundry quiz competitions ,computers internet usages electricity usages , water usages and extra classes , library, smart classes and other overhead expenses since then.
The petitioner alleged that many boarding schools like Pine Grove, Sanwara, Whlehms boys school etc have paid heed to similar request of the parents of children by cutting fee considerably but the respondent school arbitrarily is demanding the fee tune to 89 percent of the total fee which is no in the conformity of the state Government notification.
It is worthwhile to state that this school is located in the Kasauli of district Solan in Himachal Pradesh and the school was founded by Sir Henry Lawrence and his wife Honoria, is one of the oldest surviving boarding schools as established in 1847.