Delhi HC scraps govt order capping pvt school fee

The Delhi high court on Friday set aside the Delhi government’s April 2018 order restraining 325 private schools built on state land from raising their fees, in a potential blow to students and their parents. The schools had sought a 15% increase in fees on grounds that they needed to raise the salaries of teachers in line with recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.

The Delhi Parents’ Association (DPA) swiftly criticised the verdict.

“The high court order in favour of private schools is one-sided and completely against the parents. Schools, which do not even pay teachers as per the Sixth Pay Commission, will not pay them as per the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations as well. We are ready to challenge the order if it leads to fee hike,” Aparajita Gautam, president of DPA, said.

A detailed high court order was not released on Friday, but government officials said a fee hike was possible. It will depend on the outcome of a financial audit of the schools’ accounts, said an official on the condition of anonymity. The audit is being conducted by the Directorate of Education (DoE) and schools that have surplus funds will not be permitted to raise their fee, he said.

On Friday, justice C Hari Shankar quashed the order of the DoE of April 13, 2018, whereby it had directed that any private, unaided, recognised school running on land allotted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) or any other government agency could not increase their fees without the prior permission of the directorate.

The DoE on Friday said it was yet to receive a copy of the judgment. “It is only after that we can analyse the reason for the verdict given by the Delhi high court. We are yet to find the main ground for the court to deliver this judgment,” Binay Bhushan, director, DoE, said.

Khagesh Jha, advocate and founder of the non-government organisation Justice for All, too, said a decision to hike the fee will depend on the outcome of the financial audit of the school’s account by DoE.

“The DoE circular was subjected to the financial audit of the schools that has already taken place. The requests of most of the schools operating on the DDA land have been rejected after the audit after surplus amount was found in their accounts,” said Jha, who represented a group of parents in the case.

The court’s decision came on a plea by the Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools challenging the DoE order.

The plea, filed through advocate Kamal Gupta, had contended that the decision of the Delhi government would lead to a delay in schools implementing the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations. He had said that this could also lead to the resignation of several teachers who had not received a salary raise .

On October 17, 2017, the Delhi government had issued an order stating that schools can increase their fees to the tune of 15% in line with the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations provided they get their financial accounts audited by the government in a fixed period of time.

This order was on April 13, 2018, withdrawn by the government after a public interest litigation was filed in the court challenging it. The DoE said the schools would have to obtain prior permission from it before increasing their fees and any hike would be permitted only after an audit of the schools’ accounts.

First Published:
Mar 15, 2019 23:55 IST

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