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Punjab & Haryana HC dismisses plea challenging order directing private schools to upload balance sheets online

It was held by the bench that the imposition of the conditions by the Chandigarh Administration upon the petitioner schools cannot be called as unreasonable or restrictive in nature, as the same are regulatory.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed two pleas challenging the Chandigarh administration’s order to unaided private schools to upload balance sheets on their websites and the constitution of a Fee Regulatory Authority.

The division bench of Justices Jaswant Singh and Sant Parkash, while dismissing the petitions of Independent Schools’ Association Chandigarh, and Kabir Education Society, Chandigarh, said, “The schools have the duty to impart education as well as to teach moral values to students. But it seems that certain schools are themselves indulging in immoral activities, such as concealing material facts with an ulterior motive to get a favourable order.”

The petitioners — through their counsels — contended that the 2018 Ministry of Home Affairs notification vide which the Chandigarh administration directed the private unaided schools to upload the income and expenditure account and balance sheet on their websites, was arbitrary.

It was argued that uploading financial information on the website would render private institutions vulnerable to unbridled dissection by the public and possible resultant unwarranted attacks, which would create hurdles in smooth functioning of the institution.

The UT counsel, in reply, submitted that the uploading of income and expenditure by the private educational institutions, is on account of complaints being received from the parents regarding the school indulging in profiteering. A majority of schools, including some that are members in the petitioner association, have complied with the directions issued by the Chandigarh Administration already.

The bench after hearing the arguments said, “…only few members are aggrieved, but the petitions are filed by the association making all member schools as parties, at the behest of few members, only to pressurise the government. It can also not be ignored, that there can be cases where various schools wish to comply with directions and are not aggrieved but on account of challenge by the Association refrain from complying…”

It was held by the bench that the imposition of the conditions by the Chandigarh Administration upon the petitioner schools cannot be called as unreasonable or restrictive in nature, as the same are regulatory.

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