Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court has served notice to the Odisha government in response to a special leave petition (SLP) petition filed by the Association of Odisha ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) Schools with regard to waiver of private schools fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A division bench of Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheswari has asked the state government to furnish a reply within two weeks. The next hearing in the case is on March 17.
During a hearing on Monday, the counsel of the Association V Mohana told the court that the Odisha government is not empowered to determine the fees for the private schools.
Adhering to the Orissa High Court order, the School and Mass Education (SME) Department in a notification on January 21 this year had fixed the fees for the private schools on different slabs as per the recommendation of the Fee Structure Committee report by the former Justice of the High Court KP Mahapatra, he said.
Stating that 105 ISCE schools in Odisha, especially 50 ISCE schools for the minority students, have sustained huge losses, the counsel said that the High Court during the final hearing had not taken the validity of the said notification and the MoU signed between the School and Mass Education Department and the stakeholders on September 10 last year.
He said that the Association was not given the opportunity to place its contention during the signing of the MoU.
“While the department, in its affidavit submitted in the High Court, had admitted that there is no provision to fix the school fees of the private schools under the Odisha Education Act, 1969, the MoU signed on September 10 last year for the fixation of the private school fees is legally untenable,” he maintained.