The Delhi High Court, today in a judgement asked the schools built on land allotted by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to comply with the allotment letter. Such schools have been asked to take permission from government to hike the fee. HC has also asked the department of education to ensure compliance of the terms in letter of allotment regarding increase of fees by recognized private unaided schools.
A PIL was filed by Advocate Khagesh Jha, on the behalf of Delhi based NGO, Justice for All and the case was heard by Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath on Tuesday morning. The verdict that followed the hearing came as a relief to thousands of parents who have been facing annual fee hikes. There are around 400 private unaided schools in Delhi that will come under the decision.
“It is clear that schools cannot indulge in profiteering and commercialization of school education…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 hike in fee by a particular school is found to be excessive and perceived as indulging in profiteering,” the Court observed.
The Court also mentioned that Delhi Development Authority is eligible to take action against the schools violating the terms. “Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is directed 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 bench said.
The bench passed a 16-page verdict which further mentions, “In light of the Supreme Court judgment in Modern School vs Union of India, they (private schools) are bound to comply with the stipulations in the letter of allotment.”
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Earlier in the Court, Advocate Khagesh Jha mentioned that the schools have been allotted the land by DDA in public interest and hence the schools should fix fee on the basis of the paying capacity of the particular locality residents. He also advocated that DDA provides an allotment letter in which a specific clause bars the schools from hiking tuition fees without prior sanction from Department of Education.
As per the sources SK Bhattacharya, President of the Action Committee of Unaided Private Schools responded to the decision and said, “We will soon file a special leave petition with the Supreme Court, as the judgement is against the spirit of the Constitution.” Mr. Bhattacharya also mentioned that the 1973 Act gives full autonomy to schools and schools are authorized to regulate their own fees.
The High Court had set up the Justice (Retd.) Anil Dev Singh Committee in the year 2011 to identify such schools not following fee fixation rule. The committee had identified 472 schools to be overcharging parents on the pretext of implementing recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission while not doing the same. However the report submitted to the High Court on December 30, the committee had identified 53 more schools as defaulters under the category and the government ordered schools to refund the excess fee.
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