The Delhi High Court has asked the Center and the Delhi government to share details of steps taken, provided schools are aided or established by them, to provide uninterrupted education to children who lost their parents due to COVID-19 and were not in a Position to pay their fees.
Justice Yashwant Varma also asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to submit an affidavit explaining the measures taken to ensure continued education of orphan students.
The court heard the directions while listening to a plea by two minors, who were at the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute in Subroto Park, who lost their father, the only earning member of their family, during the second wave of the pandemic.
The minors stated that the father died in April 2021 while being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital in the Capital. In their plea, filed through their mother, the children requested the court to make sure their right to education is not prejudiced on the account of non-payment of their school fees.
Earlier this month, the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, in an affidavit to the court, had stated that the minors were operating at the school without any interruption. The school said it had not taken any action that could interrupt the education of the minors. Taking a compassionate view of their situation, the school waived the fees for the two minors for one year. However, it did demand the fees from the two students from this year onwards.
Advocate Bharat Malhotra, representing the minors pro bono, said it was a duty of the government to protect the right to education of students in the event of their inability to pay fees due to financial hardships.
Justice Varma noted that the Center had responded to its affidavit filed in response to a plea deal with the relevant authorities regarding the continuing education of children who may have lost one or more of their parents due to COVID-19.
The Delhi Government, in its affidavit, stated that the schemes framed by the Central Government were being duly implemented. It said financial assistance was being provided to families who lost their breadwinners in the pandemic through the ‘Mukhyamantri COVID-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojna’.
It added that two types of financial assistance were being provided through this scheme – monthly assistance of Rs. 2500 and one-time assistance of Rs. 50,000.
The High Court, however, asked if any additional measures were taken by the Delhi government for the purpose of continuing the education of such children.