Delhi HC division bench stays till Apr 8 single judge order upholding interim fee hike by private schools

Delhi HC division bench stays till Apr 8 single judge order upholding interim fee hike by private schools

Agency News

New Delhi, Apr 3 : Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed till April 8 interim hike in fees by private unaided schools in the Capital after hearing the plea of Aam Aadmi Party government challenging a Single Judge order. Delhi High Court Single Judge after hearing passed an order on March 15 by 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 amounts without approval of the Directorate of Education (DoE).

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government yesterday challenged the order of Delhi High Court Single Judge 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 hikes.

Counsel for Delhi Government today submitted through Appeal that the single judge 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. 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".

Commercialisation of education 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 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. Delhi High Court division bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta today after hearing the Appeal 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.

Delhi High Court division bench after adjourning the matter for April 8 said that till the next date of hearing none of the 'land clause' schools will proceed to collect the interim hiked fee. 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)