Delhi government asked to make schools refund excess fees
The Delhi High Court Friday directed the city government to implement recommendations of a panel on the unaided private schools' fee structure which has asked nearly 250 institutions to return the "excess amount" to parents with nine percent interest.
A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul told the Delhi government that the committee has submitted four reports based on examination of fee structures of unaided private schools and it is "free to implement the recommendations".
"The government is permitted to implement the recommendations as per the reports of the committee on the schools mentioned in the reports. Delhi government is free to do the same," the bench said in its order.
The Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee, which made the recommendations, has so far examined the accounts of 605 unaided private schools out of a total 1,172 institutions.
Till now, the committee has recommended that 242 schools should return excess fees they have collected from the parents with nine percent interest from 2008 to 2011.
The committee found that in around 100 schools, either no records were maintained or the accounts were fudged. It recommended strict action against these schools.
Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, who filed the PIL against fee hikes, said: "Now 242 schools have to return excess fees and as per recommendation, action will be taken around 100 schools found not maintaining proper accounts."
Many of the schools in the city were operating without even a bank account and year after year they were granted recognition, the committee report has said.
Several of the schools have not been maintaining proper accounts and were not getting their accounts audited as required by the law, and were also not filing annual returns, the report said.
After the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, the schools increased the fees, citing additional financial burden due to increased salaries of teachers.
In August 2011, the court gave directions for setting up a three-member committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the fee hike by them was required.
This order came on a petition filed by NGO Social Jurists, through advocate Agarwal, which alleged that schools had hiked the fees "unreasonably" but they failed to pay the salaries of the teaching and non-teaching staff as per the pay panel recommendations.
(Posted on 24-01-2014)