Section-144 has been imposed in Mumbai by Dy Commissioner of Police Pranaya Ashok, prohibiting any presence or movement of one or more persons in view of COVID-19
Section-144 has been imposed in Mumbai by Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranaya Ashok, prohibiting any presence or movement of one or more persons in public places or gathering of any sort anywhere, including religious places subject to certain conditions, in view of COVID-19. The following documents detail the nature of the imposition, in view of rising Covid cases.
“Mumbai city continues to be threatened with the spread of COVID-19, it is considered expedient to issue prohibitory orders for restricting any presence or movement of one or more persons in public places or gathering of any sort anywhere including religious places to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 virus in the areas under the control of Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai,” the order said.
Mumbai’s COVID-19 tally
A total of 903 new COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths were reported in Mumbai on Tuesday, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “The total number of cases has reached 77,197 in the city,” said BMC adding, “625 patients discharged on Tuesday.” At present, there are 28,473 active COVID-19 cases and 44,170 patients recovered from the virus. The city has reported 4,554 fatalities as of June 30.
While rejecting the plea, Justice Banerjee stated that differential treatment cannot be meted out just because Yadav is under detention.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the interim bail of Mahender Singh Yadav, co-accused in the 1984 Anti Sikh Riots.
A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee & BR Gavai stated that no specific suggestions are put forth in the plea which prayed for interim bail for Yadav on account of being COVID19 positive and that everything possible was in fact being done in furtherance of treatment of Yadav. Court further noted that no other specific suggestion was forthcoming from the family which they wished to take.
Senior Advocate R Basant appeared for the petitioner. He argued that Yadav was in the ICU.
Basant: “Yadav is in ICU. In the hospital too he is in custody. Two constables are posted outside his ward. No relatives able to visit.”
Justice Banerjee: If a person is in ICU or general ward, no relative can visit. She adds that generalisations cannot be made in such cases. “How can we make such a rule just for him? If allowed in this case ..everyone will come…I dont think we can entertain this petition in absence of any specific allegation or complaint regarding treatment and also common rules have to be followed..nowhere relatives of a patient is allowed to visit”
The plea contended that,
That the petitioner has moved the present Application for interim bail as the petitioner has been tested Corona Positive on June 26 and his health is continuously deteriorating. It is necessary to bring to the notice of this Hon’ble Court that 1 inmate with whom the petitioner was sharing has died due to Corona on 15.06.2020….After the death of 1 inmate, Corona test of all inmates was conducted and 17 inmates were found to be Corona positive” – the plea for interim bail states
Yadav, who is accused under Sections 120B read with 436, 153A (1)(a) & (b), 295 IPC sc his involvement in the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, has contended that he has already served more than one year and 5 months in prison excluding any period covered by remission and has not been given parole for a single day.
Further, plea states the grounds for interim bail as that of the fact that Yadav more than 70 years old and suffers from various ailments including inability to walk properly, acute diabetes and kidney issues.
“That the Applicant is seeking interim bail so that proper medical care can be provided to him by his family as he is a Senior citizen aged about 72 years suffering from Acute Diabetes, Urinary/prostate problem, knee Joints problem and has now been tested Corona positive. It has also been found by the Doctors that Corona virus is very risky for those suffering from diabetes and other medical complications”
In May 2013, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was awarded life imprisonment for nearly 29 years after five members of a family were killed in the Delhi cantonment area during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Ex-councillor Mahender Yadav and ex-MLA Kishan Khokkar — were found guilty of only rioting and were awarded three year’s imprisonment.
“We are of the prima facie view that the impugned Government Resolution dated 08.05.2020 is without jurisdiction”, the Court said on Friday
The Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the Maharashtra Government’s directive barring an increase or hike in school fees this year (academic year 2020-21) in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown (Association of Indian School and ors v. State of Maharashtra and others).
A May 8 resolution issued to this effect was challenged by private unaided and private unaided minority schools in the State of Maharashtra affiliated to different Education Boards.
The resolution had been passed by the Government invoking Section 21 of the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011 and Section 26 (i) and (l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
In the pleas assailing the move, however, it was contended before the Bombay High Court that the school management’s decisions on the fee structure was binding as per Section 6 of the 2011 Act, and that the State Government has not been conferred any power to tamper with this fee structure.
The Bench of Justices Riyaz I Chagla and Ujjal Bhuyan on Friday found prima facie merit in these submissions, observing that,
“Prima facie having regard to the scheme of section 6, we are of the view that section 21 could not have been invoked by the State Government to have issued the impugned Government Resolution.”
The Court added that it could not find any provision enabling the Government to issue the May 8 resolution in the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 or the Disaster Management Act, 2005 either.
In the absence of such statutory powers, the Bench also noted that courts have laid down that the State cannot issue such resolutions touching upon the question of regulating school fees in private institutions under Article 162 of the Constitution.
In this regard, the Court referred to the Supreme Court ruling in the case of TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka and the Bombay High Court ruling in Association of International Schools Vs. State of Maharashtra.“That being the position, we are of the prima facie view that the impugned Government Resolution dated 08.05.2020 is without jurisdiction.”the Court said.
As such, the Court has now stayed the May 8 State Government Resolution and all allied communications made subsequently. The Court, however, added that the schools may consider allowed the payment of school fees in instalments in view of difficulties that may be faced by parents in these testing times.
“… we are also mindful of the difficulties faced by the parents in these testing times. Therefore we feel that management of the private unaided schools may consider providing option to the students / parents to pay the fee in such instalments as is considered reasonable and also to allow them the option to pay the fee online”, the order states.
The matter has been posted to be taken up next on August 11
A petition has been filed in Supreme Court by a group of parents from various States seeking relief from paying school fees in private aided/unaided schools for months of April, May, and June this year due to COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
The petition seeks that the Centre and State governments direct private schools to not charge any fees from students enrolled with those schools for a period of three months from April to June or till physical classes start after lifting of the lockdown. Various prayers have been made for fee-waiver relief in the petition, including the following.
The petitioners pray for directions so that schools only charge fees proportionate to the conduct of online classes and, further that, only tuition fees be collected. No other component of the fees may be charged from the enrolled students, the plea prays.
The waiver is sought until regular physical classes in schools resume after the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions on the functioning of schools are lifted, it is said.
Further, a complete waiver of fees is sought for students whose parents are currently not engaged in any vocation or who have faced a reduction in salary or who are not earning any income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown during the months between March and July.
A prayer is also made in the petition to defer or impose a moratorium on the payment of the for this period prescribed, for the students whose parents opt for such deferment. No penalty or additional charge must be levied by the schools, it is prayed. No student should be struck out of their enrollment from the schools due to non-payment of fees, the petition further adds.
It is stated that the petitioners were constrained to approach the Supreme Court seeking protection of the fundamental right to life and education guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
Many students enrolled up till Class XII are facing dire situations and being deprived of this right on account of financial hardships posed due to the pandemic and the lockdown.
It is pointed out that varying orders have been passed by State governments and the reliefs granted by different High Courts have also been inconsistent. Therefore, there is a hostile discrimination created as regards the protection of the student’s rights.
The manner in which online classes are conducted and the students from economically weaker sections are unable to benefit from the same due to lack of resources is also touched upon in the plea. The plea adds,
“Children and students might be exposed to hazards for the online education and the need for uniform and safer guidelines all over the country for implementation of the online education has become necessary, faiilure to do so by the competent authorities may result in innumerous cases of side effects of such uncontrolled and non regulated online education for the lacs of students country wide.”
The petitioners who hail from eight different States also invoke the principle of parens patriae in pleading for waivers and moratoriums as regards the payment of school fees.
“It is imperative to note that the doctrine of ‘parens patriae’ is applicable to the common people of the State who are undisputredly the victims of this calamity and the Central and State governments being the guardians of its residents must assume the role of parents and take all necessary steps to protect the rightsand interests of its citizens.”
Therefore, the petitioners have approached the Supreme Court to address their grievances as regards the payment of school fees during this time.
The petition has been filed through Advocate Mayank Kshirsagar while it has been drawn by Advocate Pankhuri and settled by Advocate Siddharth Shankar Sharma.
The Central Government has enforced the amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, as proposed under Part I, Chapter IVof the Finance Act, 2019, from July 1 onwards.
The amendments, related to collection of Stamp Duty on securities, were first scheduled to come into force on January 9, 2020, which was later extended to April 1, 2020 vide notification dated January 8, 2020. The implementation was further extended until July 1, 2020, vide a gazette notification dated March 30, 2020.
Amendments to the present system of collection of stamp duty on securities market transactions were introduced as the erstwhile system led to multiple rates for the same instrument, resulting in jurisdictional disputes and multiple incidences of duty, thereby raising the transaction costs in the securities market and hurting capital formation.
The Central Government has now created the legal and institutional mechanism to enable states to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency.
“In order to facilitate ease of doing business and to bring in uniformity of the stamp duty on securities across States and thereby build a pan-India securities market, the Central Government, after due deliberations and consultations with the States, through requisite amendments in the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and Rules made thereunder, has created the legal and institutional mechanism to enable states to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency (through Stock Exchange or Clearing Corporation authorized by it or by the Depository) on one Instrument. A mechanism for appropriately sharing the stamp duty with relevant State Governments has also been developed which is based on the state of domicile of the buyer,” the press note states.
This rationalized and harmonized system through centralized collection mechanism is expected to ensure minimize cost of collection and enhance revenue productivity.
To achieve the rationalization of stamp duty structures, the amendments, inter-alia, provide for the following structural reforms —
The stamp-duty on sale, transfer and issue of securities shall be collected on behalf of the State Government by the collecting agents who then shall transfer the collected stamp-duty in the account of the concerned State Government.
In order to prevent multiple incidences of taxation, no stamp duty shall be collected by the States on any secondary record of transaction associated with a transaction on which the depository / stock exchange has been authorised to collect the stamp duty.
In the extant scenario, stamp duty was payable by both seller and buyer whereas in the new system it is levied only on one side (payable either by the buyer or by the seller but not by both, except in case of certain instrument of exchange where the stamp duty shall be borne by both parties in equal proportion).
The collecting agents shall be the Stock Exchanges or authorized Clearing Corporations and the Depositories.
For all exchange based secondary market transactions in securities, Stock Exchanges shall collect the stamp duty; and for off-market transactions (which are made for a consideration as disclosed by trading parties) and initial issue of securities happening in demat form, Depositories shall collect the stamp duty.
The Central Government has also notified the Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL) under the jurisdiction of RBI and the Registrars to an Issue and/or Share Transfer Agents (RTI/STAs) to act as a collecting agent. The objective is to bring OTC derivative transactions reported to CCIL and physical space (non-demat) transactions in mutual funds handled through RTI/STAs under the ambit of stamp duty regime so as to avoid any tax arbitrage.
The collecting agents shall within three weeks of the end of each month transfer the stamp-duty collected to the State Government where the residence of the buyer is located and in case the buyer is located outside India, to the State Government having the registered office of the trading member or broker of such buyer and in case where there is no such trading member of the buyer, to the State Government having the registered office of the participant.
The collecting agent shall transfer the collected stamp-duty in the account of concerned State Government with the Reserve Bank of India or any scheduled commercial bank, as informed to the collecting agent by the Reserve Bank of India or the concerned State Government.
The collecting agent may deduct 0.2 per cent of the stamp-duty collected on behalf of the State Government towards facilitation charges before transferring the same to such State Government.
For many segments, there is reduction in duty. For example, the rate prescribed is lower for issue of equity/debentures and for transfer of debentures (including re-issue) to aid capital formation and to promote corporate bond market.
For equity cash segment trading (both delivery and non-delivery-based transactions) and options, since rates are to be charged only on one side in line with the new scheme, it can be stated that there is an overall reduction in tax burden.
Secondary market transfer of instruments which are traded with differences in a few basis points, like interest rate / currency derivatives or corporate bonds are being charged at a very lower rate from the existing rates. For the newly introduced ‘repo on corporate bonds’, a far lower rate is specified, since similarly positioned repo on Government Securities is not subject to duty.
No stamp duty shall be chargeable in respect of the Instruments of transaction in stock exchanges and depositories established in any International Financial Services Centre set up under section 18 of the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
Tax arbitrage is avoided by providing the same rate of stamp duty for issue or re-issue or sale or transfer of securities happening outside stock exchanges and depositories.
Mutual funds, being delivery-based transactions in securities, were supposed to have been paying the duty as per various State Acts. All mutual fund transactions are thus liable for stamp duty and the new system has only standardized the charges across states and the manner of collection of stamp duty.
“Even if the Will is not enforceable for being void or may not be relevant under Section 32(6) of the Evidence Act, 1872 as a Will, it would still be admissible and relevant under Section 32(5) of the Act because the relevant recital in the Will is a statement in writing of the deceased and relates to the existence of a relationship by blood about which the testator had special means of knowledge”, ruled the Allahabad High Court recently.
Expounding the difference between the concepts of ‘void’ and ‘non-est’, the bench proceeded to observe that if a document is executed by a person who had no authority to execute it or no authority to indulge in the transactions incorporated in the document, the document would be ‘void’ but not ‘non-est’. The Court held that if a document is void then it can not be sued upon and enforced but the aforesaid does not mean that other legal consequences of the document shall not follow.
“The admissibility in evidence or the probative value of a document or its contents does not depend on its enforceability by the courts”, asserted the bench.
Section 32(5) provides that Statements, written or verbal, of relevant facts, made by a person who is dead, are themselves relevant facts when the statement relates to the existence of any relationship, by blood, marriage or adoption, between persons as to whose relationship the person making the statement had special means of knowledge, and when the statement was made before the question in dispute was raised.
Under section 32(6), such a statement of a dead person would become relevant when it relates to the existence of any relationship by blood, marriage or adoption between persons deceased, and is made in any will or deed relating to the affairs of the family to which any such deceased person belonged, or in any family pedigree, or upon any tombstone, family portrait, or other thing on which such statements are usually made, and when such statement was made before the question in dispute was raised.
The present writ petition arises from proceedings registered under Section 9-A(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1953. One Gaya was the original tenure holder of the disputed plots. Shivraji was the widow of Gaya. Munia was the daughter of Gaya and Shivraji. Petitioners are the sons of Munia. Gaya belonged to the Lohar community. Gaya died before the date of vesting as defined in Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950, and in the revenue records of 1359 Fasli and 1379 Fasli Shivraji was recorded as tenant of the disputed plots. After the death of Shivraji, the petitioners were recorded as tenants of the disputed plots and continued to be recorded as such in the basic year records of the village, i.e., the records available on the date the notification under Section 4(2) of the Act, 1953 was published notifying the village under consolidation operations.
During the consolidation operations, the respondent no. 3 filed objections against the entries in the basic year records claiming himself to be the sole tenant of the disputed plots. On the objections of respondent no. 3, a Case under Section 9-A(2) of the Act, 1953 was registered before the relevant Consolidation Officer. The case set up by respondent no. 3 was that Gaya and Shivraji had two sons, namely Thakur and Pheku, and respondent no. 3 was the son of Thakur. Thakur died before Gaya. It was the case of respondent no. 3 that Pheku had died issueless, therefore, the share of Pheku also devolved on respondent no. 3.
The petitioners contested the case set up by respondent no. 3. The petitioners denied that Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Gaya or that respondent no. 3 was the grandson of Gaya. However, the petitioners admitted that Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Shivraji. The case of the petitioners was that Gaya had only one daughter namely Munia, and the petitioners were the sons of Munia. The petitioners alleged that, before her marriage with Gaya, Shivraji was married to one Budhai, resident of Village-Khairatiya and Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Budhai. The petitioners alleged that Thakur and Pheku came with Shivraji after her marriage to Gaya.
On their aforesaid pleadings, the petitioners claimed to be the tenants of the disputed plots under Section 171(2)(h) of the Act, 1950 because they were the sons of the daughter of Gaya. In the alternative, the petitioners also alleged that before his death, Gaya had executed a registered Will dated 29.3.1946 bequeathing his entire property, including the disputed plots, in favour of petitioner no. 1. It is advanced that The Will dated 29.3.1946 contains a recital allegedly made by Gaya that he had no son but only one daughter namely Munia, who had one son named Bhrigurasan. Bhrigurasan is petitioner no. 1 in the present writ petition. On the aforesaid pleadings, the petitioners prayed that the objections of respondent no. 3 be rejected and the entries in the basic year records be retained.
The consolidation courts have rejected the Will on the ground that Gaya had no transferable interest in the suit property and, therefore, the Will was void.
Before the High Court, the counsel for respondent no. 3 has argued that in view of Section 33 of the United Provinces Tenancy Act, 1939 the interest of Gaya in the disputed plots was heritable but not transferable and, therefore, Gaya had no right to execute a Will regarding the disputed plots and the Will dated 29.3.1946 was void ab initio and non est and had no legal consequences. It was argued that both the C.O. and the Settlement Officer of Consolidation had held that the Will dated 29.3.1946 was void and the said findings were not challenged by the petitioners in the revision filed by them before the Deputy Director of Consolidation and, therefore, the findings recorded by the consolidation courts that the Will was not enforceable cannot be challenged by the petitioners for the first time before this Court. It was further argued that as the Will dated 29.3.1946 was void ab initio, therefore, it cannot be read in evidence and any recital in the same allegedly made by Gaya was also inadmissible in evidence and was rightly ignored by the appellate and the revisional courts.
“The petitioners, in order to disprove that Thakur and Pheku were the sons of Gaya, had filed the Will dated 29.3.1946 which contained a recital by Gaya that he had no son but only a daughter named Munia. The recital in the aforesaid Will has not been considered by the S.O.C. and the D.D.C. while assessing the different evidence filed by the parties to prove their respective cases. The issue before this Court is as to whether the failure of the S.O.C. and the D.D.C. to consider the Will dated 29.3.1946 and the recital in it vitiates their orders requiring interference by this Court?”, reflected the bench.
Observations of the bench
“‘Void’ and ‘non-est’ are two different concepts. The concept of void refers to the enforceability of a contract/document/transaction and when a contract or a document is referred as void it implies that the same is not legally enforceable. ‘Non-est’ means ‘non-existent’ and is used to deny the execution of the document itself. A void document is not necessarily ‘non-est’. It is only an existing document which a party can plead to be ‘void'”, observed the Court.
The Court noted that If a document is executed by a person who had no authority to execute it or no authority to indulge in the transactions incorporated in the document, the document would be void but not ‘non-est’. It further stated that If a document is void then it can not be sued upon and enforced but the aforesaid does not mean that other legal consequences of the document shall not follow.
“A contract or any other document which creates a right would be enforced by a court only if the person who executed the document has the authority to execute it, the document is admitted in evidence and proved in accordance with the provisions of Evidence Act, 1872. The admissibility in evidence or the probative value of a document or its contents does not depend on its enforceability by the courts”, the bench opined.
It continued to declare that, For example, if a Will is not proved in accordance with Section 68 (Proof of execution of document required by law to be attested) of the Act, 1872 because no attesting witness of the Will who is alive, and subject to the process of the court and capable of giving evidence has been called to prove its due execution, the Will would not be enforced and the Will shall not be read in evidence for the purposes of enforcing the Will but can still be read in evidence for any purpose other than for enforcing the Will. In such a case, the court said, the document purporting to be a Will will be read in evidence not as Will but as any other document provided it has been proved in accordance with Sections 67 (Proof of signature and handwriting of person alleged to have signed or written document produced), 72 (Proof of document not required by law to be attested) and other provisions of the Evidence Act, 1872.
The bench further illustrated that, Similarly in a case, where a Will is not used or relied upon as a document conferring any enforceable right, the same can be read in evidence even if the requirement of Section 68 are not fulfilled and the said document is proved in accordance with Sections 67 and 72 of the Act, 1872.
“A Will which is executed by a person who had no right to make a bequest of the properties would not be enforceable by a court and in that sense it would be void. But, the said Will can be used for purposes other than its enforcement and would be admissible in evidence for such other purposes”, concluded the bench.
It ruled that, thus, even if the Will dated 29.3.1946 is not enforceable for being void or may not be relevant under Section 32(6) of the Act, 1872 as a Will, it would still be admissible and relevant under Section 32(5) of the Act, 1872 because the relevant recital in the Will is a statement in writing of the deceased and relates to the existence of a relationship by blood about which the testator had special means of knowledge as the husband of Shivraji. The Court conceded that the statement is obviously ante litem motam, i.e., made before any dispute regarding the succession to the estate of the testator started between the parties.
“Thus, the Will dated 29.3.1946 was admissible in evidence and was relevant under Section 32(5) of the Act, 1872 to decide the pedigree of respondent No. 3 and had to be considered by the S.O.C. and the D.D.C. while assessing the different evidence filed by the parties to prove or disprove the pedigrees as pleaded by them”, ordered the Court, quashing the impugned orders passed by the S.O.C. and the D.D.C. and remanding the matter back to the S.O.C. to pass fresh orders in accordance with law.
Pursuant to the Delhi High Court order directing a stay on reservations introduced by National Law University, Delhi (NLU Delhi), a revised notification for this year’s entrance examination has been released.
On account of the COVID-19 situation, NLU Delhi has announced that this year’s All India Law Entrance Test (AILET) will be a remote proctored test (RPT), to be held on August 18 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.
RPTs can be taken at home, where the candidate will be monitored through a web camera.
As per the new notification, the 50% horizontal reservation for students who completed their qualifying examinations in Delhi, the 22% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in Delhi region, as well as the 10% reservation for Economically Backward Sections (EWS) has been done away with.
As result, the only reservation that remains is the 15% for Scheduled Caste candidates, the 7.5% for Scheduled Tribe candidates, and the 5% for Persons with Disabilities. Supernumerary seats for Kashmiri migrants and Residents of Jammu & Kashmir will also remain.
In view of these changes, NLU Delhi has allowed candidates who applied earlier to withdraw their application to BA.LL.B., LL.M., and PhD programmes. The notification states,
“In view of the change in the reservation policy & seat matrix as per orders passed by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and further change in the mode of test from pen and paper test to RPT mode, the University has decided to allow the option of withdrawal to the candidates, who want to withdraw their application for admission to B.A.LL.B.(Hons), LL.M. and Ph.D. Programmes.”
Those who want to withdraw their applications are required to provide their bank accounts details by following this link. The link will be active from July 1-7, after which no withdrawal will be entertained.
The last date for application has also been extended to July 7. Candidates can apply here. Admit cards will be uploaded on the University website on July 27.
On the decision to hold AILET 2020 through remote proctoring, the notification states that consent for the same was given by the National Testing Agency (NTA). The notification states,
“Before the test, the NTA will provide the detailed information and guidance to the aspirants for which two webinars & one mock test for the AILET 2020 will be conducted by NTA. The schedule of the webinars & mock test will be notified shortly.”
While staying the move to introduce 50% horizontal reservation for local candidates at NLU Delhi, the Delhi High Court yesterday directed the University to restore status quo ante as of the previous academic year by publishing a revised notice by July 2.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today held that all schools are entitled to collect the tuition fee, irrespective whether they had offered online classes during the COVID-19 lockdown period or not (Independent Schools’ Association Chandigarh (Regd.)& others v. State of Punjab and others.)
Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, however, added that schools should “continue to endeavour and impart online/distance learning so that education is not adversely impacted due to the present or future lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19.”“[The] direction to the privately unaided Institutions who are not giving online classes not to charge tuition fee for the concerned period is definitely discriminatory and arbitrary.”the Court said.
The Court on Tuesday issued the following clarificatory directions with respect to levying of school fees:
Schools are permitted to collect their admission fee, henceforth, since the COVID-19 lockdown has now been lifted. Earlier the date to pay the admission fee had been deferred by the Government to a month after the pandemic conditions improve. “To remove all confusions, the schools should be allowed to recover their admission fee now that the lock-down stands lifted on 08.06.2020 to a great degree”, the High Court said.
All schools, irrespective whether they offered online classes during the lockdown period or not, are entitled to collect the tuition fee.
Schools will continue to endeavour and impart online/ distance learning so that education is not adversely impacted due to the present or future lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19.
The school management of each schools shall work out their actual expenditure incurred under the annual charges for the period the school remained closed. Schools shall recover only such genuine expenditure incurred by them, including actual transport charges and actual building charges, but shall not recover any charge for this period for any activity or facility towards which no expenditure was incurred. The annual charges for the remaining period shall be recovered as already fixed by the school;
The schools shall restrain themselves from increasing the fee for the year 2020-21 and adopt the same fee structure as of 2019- 20.
Responding to grievances raised by parents on the levying of schools fees during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Court also issued the following directions:
Any parent not able to pay the school fee may file their application with proof about their financial status to be looked into by the school- authority.
After looking into it sympathetically, the school give concession or exempt the entire fee, as the case may be.
In case the parent is still aggrieved, in any manner, with an adverse decision by the school on his application, he may approach the Regulatory Body, so constituted under Section 7 of the Punjab Regulation of fee of Un-aided Educational Institutions Act, 2016.
No parent shall misuse the concession by laying a false claim.
Section 7 of the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Un-aided Educational Institutions Act, 2016 is already in place for looking into the complaints of the parents or guardians with regard to charging of any excessive fee or to do any other activity with the motive to give financial benefit or profit.
The parents are at liberty to take recourse to the same and, therefore, no specific direction is required to be given by this Court separately.
In case any school is facing a financial crunch for not having charged the increased fee for the year 2020-21, it may move a representation to the District Education Officer along with its proof of the same.
The DSE shall look into it and pass appropriate orders within three weeks of the receipt of such an application. However, this may be exercised only in a very hard case where the school is facing financial crunch and has no reserved resources to meet the expenses.
The Court was dealing with a batch of pleas, including by Associations of unaided private schools and parents of school students, filed in the wake of a May 14 notification by the Director, School Education.
The May 14 notification directed, inter alia, that
Schools shall not charge any fee for the period of lockdown/curfew, excluding the period of summer break.
However, those schools who have provided or are providing online education during the period of lockdown, may charge ‘tuition fee’ only, i.e. fee other than building charges, transportation charges, charges for meals, etc.
Private schools are advised not the impose any increase in school fees in 2020-21 over those charged in 2019-20.; and
School management should not resort to removal of any teacher or reduction in the monthly salary or total emoluments of teaching/non-teaching staff.
Today, the Court held that it was arbitrary to bar schools that are not conducting online classes from collecting tuition fee, given that there are various expenses being incurred by schools even when classes are not conducted. The judgment notes,
“It is not disputed that even if schools do not provide online education, the schools are still required to meet the expenses, i.e. Full salary of the teachers and non-teaching staff as well as building, electricity expenses etc.. The schools that are not giving online classes are not exempted from paying the salary of its teaching and non-teaching staff.”
“Hence, there is no rational in laying down such a classification especially when the obligations and basic expenses of all private un-aided schools remain the same irrespective of whether they are conducting online classes or not. In these circumstances, there cannot be a separate direction for the schools who are not offering online classes.”Punjab and Haryana High Court
Addressing pleas by parents against the collection of fees, the Court also added that schools may now have to incur additional expenditure in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would go towards sanitisation measures, steps to maintain social distancing norms once schools reopen, investment in technology to provide online education etc.
“In light of this, the necessity to charge complete fees from the parents of the students, that too in a timely manner, becomes vital”, the Court said.
Justice Kaur acknowledged that the grievances of the parents that they should not be made to pay for services which have not been rendered “may be a reasonable complaint.”
However, she added that “the parents have forgotten” that school staff and teachers have to be continuously paid the salary during this lockdown period, apart from the expenses to maintain school infrastructure for when they reopen.
Furthermore, the Judge also pointed out that the parent petitioners had failed to show that they were actually strained financially to pay the fee sought by the schools.
“Even before this Court, there is no mention of the financial status of the concerned parents, no details of the income and assets is forthcoming. Moreover, the direction not to increase the fee for the 2020-21 in itself is a big relief and a heavy concession“, the Court observed.
The Court added that with respect to parents who are genuinely not in a position to pay the total fee, the May 14 notification has already advised school managements to “sympathetically consider the cases of students whose parents livelihoods may have been adversely impacted due to the lockdown, for fee waiver/concession and that no child may be denied access to education (online or regular) on non-payment of fee.”
In the interest of balancing the interests of schools and parents, the Court, however, emphasised that in collecting annual charges by schools, only the actual expenditure incurred must be collected by the schools. “It and shall not recover any charges for this period for any co-curricular activity towards which no expenditure was incurred”, the Court said.
The Consortium of National Law Universities has decided in a meeting held yesterday that this year’s Common Law Admission Test (CLAT 2020) will be held on August 22.
The NLU Consortium has also taken a call to extend the last date of applications to July 10.
This year’s exam will be a computer-based online test held at exam centres across the country. In the notification issued today, the Executive Committee of the NLU Consortium has stated,
Th”At the aforesaid meeting, the EC assessed the feasibility of conducting the Common Law Admission Test, 2020 (the “CLAT 2020”) through various modes. It concluded that an off-line test, as initially contemplated, would require large scale movement of students to limited centres, and significant logistics in the handling of question papers and answer scripts, which is not possible during the prevalent pandemic conditions. Further, an on-line test at home with technological measures cannot ensure transparency, fairness and integrity of a high stakes examination process or maintain equitable access to necessary facilities. Hence, the EC concluded that an on-line test at a large number of centres compliant with physical distancing and public health safety prescriptions is in the best interests of the health and safety of candidates and test administrators.”
Accompanying the latest notification is an advisory on conduct of a Social Distanced Computer Based Testing (SD-CBT). This method, the release states, has been created after taking inputs from prominent health experts to validate the procedures/processes that need to be followed at various stages of an exam in order to address the possible threats presented by COVID-19.
The instructions for the same are as follows:
Staff will be deployed for Crowd Management and orderly movement.
Staff with Thermo Guns will be present at entry gate
Sufficient cleaning staff, center administrators and invigilators with face masks and hand gloveswill be deployed.
Spray machines with disinfectant liquid will be used to sanitize examination centers thoroughly.
Sufficient hand sanitizer and hand soap will be present across the test centers and washrooms.
Candidates with fever or COVID symptoms will not be permitted inside the exam venue. A separate isolation lab will be set up to accommodate these candidates.
PPE kits will be made available for staff in isolation labs.
3 ply masks and gloves will be provided to isolated candidates
Further, all candidates who register a temperature more than 99.14 F will have to take the examination in the isolation lab. Candidates will be allowed to bring masks, gloves, and hand sanitiser.
The full list of examination centres will be notified by July 1.
Candidates who have previously registered for CLAT 2020 may also withdraw their applications. The application fee shall be refunded after deducting Rs. 400 for SC/ST candidates and Rs. 500 for all other candidates. Refunds will be made by July 18.
The notification further states,
“The Consortium shall issue detailed guidance with respect to the protocols and modalities of the computer-based, online, centre-based mechanism of the CLAT 2020 for all candidates to aid their preparations for the examination. The Consortium will also conduct mock exams for all registered candidates to build familiarity with the test application and interface.”
It also states that the examination for LL.M. will not have a descriptive section this year.
The notification concludes,
“The Consortium appreciates the patience and support of the CLAT 2020 candidate community, and reassures them of its commitment towards conducting the CLAT 2020 in a manner that ensures the integrity and credibility of the examination, as well as the health and safety of all candidates appearing for the examination.”
The Supreme Court has observed that there is no justification to award compensation towards loss of love and affection as a separate head, in addition to awarding compensation for loss of consortium.
The bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer, Indu Malhotra and Aniruddha Bose observed that loss of love and affection is comprehended in loss of consortium, which is a legitimate conventional head.
The court was considering an appeals filed against a High Court judgment by both the insurance company and the claimant. The Claimant’s husband had passed away in a motor vehicle accident in 1998.
The bench, in its judgment, reiterated the relevant principles for assessment of compensation in cases of accident death. The judgment mainly refers to the guidelines issued in Sarla Verma & Ors. v. Delhi Transport Corporation & Anr, regarding ascertaining the multiplicand, ascertaining the multiplier and actual collection. The Court noted that, the relevant criteria to be taken into consideration for assessing compensation in the case of death, are : (i) the age of the deceased at the time of his death; (ii) the number of dependants left behind by the deceased; and (iii) the income of the deceased at the time of his death.
In this context, the bench observed that it is necessary to provide uniformity with respect to the grant of consortium, and loss of love and affection. It said:
“Several Tribunals and High Courts have been awarding compensation for both loss of consortium and loss of love and affection. The Constitution Bench in Pranay Sethi (supra), has recognized only three conventional heads under which compensation can be awarded viz. loss of estate, loss of consortium and funeral expenses. In Magma General (supra), this Court gave a comprehensive interpretation to consortium to include spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial consortium. Loss of love and affection is comprehended in loss of consortium. The Tribunals and High Courts are directed to award compensation for loss of consortium, which is a legitimate conventional head. There is no justification to award compensation towards loss of love and affection as a separate head.”
The bench, considering the facts of the case, disposed the appeal and awarded a compensation of Rs. 19,82,563 to the claimant.