The Madras High Court on Tuesday wondered how the private schools will pay salaries to its teachers and other staff if they are prevented from collecting 'minimum' fees from students.
Justice R Mahadevan made the observations while admitting a batch of petitions by associations of schools and colleges challenging a Tamil Nadu government order restraining them from demanding and collecting fees from students in view of COVID-19 lockdown.
It is the policy decision of the government that all private educational institutions must pay salary to their teaching and non-teaching staff. "But if unaided institutions are prohibited from collecting even minimum fees, how will they pay salary, that too when almost all such institutions are conducting online classes," the Judge said in his oral observations during virtual hearing of the petition.
He issued notice to the state government to file its response by June 30 to the pleas by Federation of Association of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu, All India Private Educational Institutions Association and Consortium of Self Financing Professional, Arts and Science Colleges in Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, representing the petitioners, senior counsel KM Vijayan submitted that on April 20 the state government issued a Government Order (GO) restraining all private schools and colleges across the state from demanding fee payable by students as fixed by the fee fixation committee citing the COVID-19 outbreak. However, at the same time, it had also instructed all such institutions to pay salaries to all their staff without any default, he said.
The counsel wondered how these institutions whose only source of income was fees from students can pay salaries when they were prohibited from collecting fees. Vijayan contended that the Disaster Management Act, 2005, under which the GO has been issued was solely enacted for the purpose of managing disaster and it has no relevance towards the financial management of individuals or managements of schools or colleges. Only in Tamil Nadu such a prohibition had been imposed, he submitted.
(With inputs from PTI)