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Shimla, July 15 : The Himachal Pradesh High Court has restrained the prestigious Lawrence School at Sanawar in Kasauli hills, which boasts of alumni like Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, from receiving additional fees for holding virtual classes owing to the pandemic.

A Division Bench of Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Joytsna Rewal Dua directed the state Education Secretary and the school headmaster to file reply or instructions before the next date of hearing on July 20.

In a one page order on Tuesday, the court restrained the school from receiving the balance amount of fee of Rs 170,800.

The court passed the order on the petition of Deepak Gupta, who moved the court on July 7. His son is in Class 8 of the boarding school located in Solan district.

"Sending the child to the boarding is a big decision which is always taken by the parents for the betterment of child's future so that he could become physically and mentally strong," the petitioner said.

He said the school demanded a total fee of Rs 636,200 in January as it was payable in two installments. The first installment was of Rs 401,700 and was paid before February 15.

The second installment of Rs 2,34,500 was to be paid on or before July 15.

He said the school opened on February 15 and the child was taken to home on March 17 due to the pandemic.

The petitioner said the state higher education on May 27 directed the private schools not to charge any fee, except tuition fee, and the tuition fee could not be collected on a quarterly basis.

Nearly 140 parents sent a digitally signed representation requesting the school for waiving the school fee.

Ignoring the parents' request, the school on July 3 demanded Rs 1,70,800, instead of Rs 2,34,500 from the parents, reducing the fee merely to 11 per cent (Rs 63,700).

The school started the online classes on April 6, comprising four sections of 120 students in one go compared to regular classes of 20 to 30 students.

Moreover, the petition says, there are no extracurricular activities along with no board and lodging facilities extended to the students amid the lockdown.

The residential Lawrence School also boasts of alumni like Punjab's former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text

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