Delhi High Court halts fee hike in private schools on DDA land

In a major relief to many parents aggrieved by random hikes in tuition fee, The Delhi High Court told several unaided private schools not to hike fees till August 22 and to submit their account details to the Delhi government by then for permission for effecting a raise. The direction by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva came on the plea of an association claiming to represent about 450 private unaided schools who had sought three more months to submit the documents, the last date for which was July 31.

This position had been upheld by the high court on January 19 this year and a review plea by the association against that decision was dismissed on July 27, 2016.

These schools were allotted land by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) at concessional rates and under the allotment conditions, they have to take permission from the Directorate of Education (DoE) before hiking fees.

In January 2016, Delhi High Court issued the notification that Private unaided schools on land alloted by DDA have to take prior government sanction before hiking fees as “schools cannot indulge in profiteering and commercialization of education”. It even directed Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to take appropriate steps in accordance with the law against those private schools which violate the stipulation regarding fee hike in the letter of allotment.

The judgement came on a PIL filed by advocate Khagesh Jha for an NGO, Justice for all, which had sought that recognized private unaided schools on land alloted by DDA be directed to abide by the stipulation in letter of allotment to take prior sanction of DoE before hiking their fees.

Since January till July, the respective parents kept on speculating about the increase fee structure. However on July 28, 2016, the Delhi High Court ruled that private unaided schools on land allotted by the Delhi Development Authority will have to take approval from the government before hiking the fee. A Bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath dismissed the petition seeking a review of its January 19 order directing the Delhi government to ensure compliance of terms in the letter of allotment regarding increase of fees by recognised private unaided schools on land allotted by the DDA.

Addressing the appropriate steps to be taken, the Bench, however, made it clear that schools were not precluded from challenging the action, if any, taken by the Directorate of Education (DoE) for enforcement of the terms of allotment of land with regard to increase of fees.

Quantum of fees

The court had said the quantum of fees to be charged by unaided schools is subject to regulation by DoE in terms of power conferred under Delhi Schools Education Act of 1973, and it is competent to interfere if the hike in fee by a particular school is found to be excessive and perceived as indulging in profiteering. The January 19 order had come on a petition filed by NGO Justice For All.

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