Delhi HC stays till April 30 interim order on fee hike by private unaided schools

Delhi HC stays till April 30 interim order on fee hike by private unaided schools

Agency News

New Delhi, Apr 8 : Delhi High Court on Monday stayed till April 30 an order passed by a Single Judge Bench of the court allowing interim fee hike by private unaided schools in the Capital.

A division bench of Justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta passed the stay order after hearing the plea of Delhi Government challenging the Single Judge bench order allowing the interim fee hike. A Single Judge bench of the court on March 15 passed an order permitting the interim fee hike by quashing a Delhi Government circular of April 13 last year which had prohibited private unaided schools functioning on government land from hiking tuition fee without approval of the Directorate of Education.

It has challenged the order of Single Judge of Delhi High Court which allows the private unaided schools in the national capital to go ahead with the interim hike in fees to implement the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission on salaries of teachers and other employees.

The order of Delhi Government was selectively applied to private schools which were on government land and as per a 'land clause' in the lease agreement, they needed to seek prior approval of the DoE before the fees hike.

Counsel for Delhi Government has submitted through Appeal that the Single Judge has failed to appreciate the interim fee hike as contemplated in the circular of October 17, 2017 could not have obviated the mandatory requirement of prior approval in DDA land clause cases, even though, the same was a dispensation by the DoE as the said dispensation was merely an interim measure subject to detailed scrutiny and prior approval of the DoE once the accounts of the schools have been scrutinised." He further submitted that findings of the Single Judge that the interim fee hike was perfectly in order in view of an earlier order of the high court is "ex-facie unsustainable".

Counsel for Delhi Government further submitted that while setting aside the April last year circular the Single Judge had said the statements of fees submitted by private schools would be subject to scrutiny by the DoE "with a view to ensuring that the schools were not indulging in commercialisation of education by resorting to profiteering, or charging of capitation fee". He argued that the court had erred in holding that no prior approval of DoE was required in case of interim fee hike as the same was not an act of fee increase by the school, but a dispensation by the department itself.

Counsel for Action Committee has submitted that the Delhi Schools Education Act equalised all schools in the matter of pay and allowances to be granted to teachers and employees and therefore there was no justification to selectively withdraw the October 17, 2017 order which permitted an interim hike of fees to implement the 7th CPC recommendations.

The division bench after hearing the submission on behalf of Delhi Government issued notice and sought response of Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools, in which a number of private schools are members.

It adjourned the matter for April 30 by passing a further stay order. The court had also made it clear that "if any school is, in fact, found to be indulging in commercialisation of education, the DoE would be well within its rights in proceeding, against such institution, in accordance with law, and keeping in mind the provisions of the Delhi Schools Education Act and Rules". (UNI)