NGO claims 457 schools defied Delhi govt order to refund excess fees, asks HC to attach their bank accounts
As many as 457 private schools have defied a Delhi government order to refund excess fees collected from students within a week, claimed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi High Court on Monday.
As many as 457 private schools have defied a Delhi government order to refund excess fees collected from students within a week, claimed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi High Court on Monday. The petition, filed by NGO Social Jurist, sought an order from the court attaching the bank accounts of the erring schools.
On 16 May, the Delhi government directed 575 schools to pay back excess fees collected from students and to comply with the recommendations of Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee within seven days. The petition alleged that as many as 475 schools have failed to comply despite the time frame set by the government.
“The said period has lapsed and the schools continue to brazenly defy the directions of this hon’ble court as well as contained in the orders issued by the respondent GNCTD,” the petition said.
In 2009, the Delhi government passed an order allowing private schools to increase their fees to meet financial requirements to pay teachers. The court, hearing a petition challenging the validity of that order, observed that schools could collect the fees subject to the condition that they would return the excess money with an interest of 9 percent per annum if it was found that the money payable was less than what the students paid.
The order read, “The parents would pay the fee at the rates specified in orders dated 11.02.2009 with effect from the issuance of this order. This is subject to the condition that in case it is ultimately found that the fee payable was less than what is actually paid, the schools shall refund excess amount paid by those students along with interest @ 9% per annum.” Soon after this order, private schools increased their fees even though it was not warranted in many cases, the petition alleged.
The Delhi High Court then formed a committee under the chairmanship of Justice Anil Dev Singh to verify whether any money had been collected by schools in excess of what was required to meet the financial requirements to pay teachers and staff as per Sixth Central Pay Commission.
“The said Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee has so far submitted to this Honorable Court 10 interim reports as well as monthly interim reports from June 2016 to January 2018 in regard to total 1,160 unaided recognised private schools. The committee has identified 575 schools in these reports to refund excess fees charged by these schools with 9 percent interest,” the petition said.
It further added that the estimated excess amount, along with interest payable at 9 percent per annum to the parents, is to the tune of Rs 750 crore. The petition also alleges that the government of Delhi only provides lip service in the name of implementing the order and is taking no action against the erring schools.
Adding that the stipulated time frame to implement the recent order issued by the Delhi government has lapsed and the schools continue to brazenly defy the orders issued by the government, it mentioned that 118 of the 575 schools identified by the Anil Dev Singh committee deposited some amounts in the court.
“But remaining 457 schools have neither approached the court nor have deposited any amount,” said advocate Ashok Agarwal, arguing for the petitioner.
He also assured a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 to families dependent on the mining and tourism industries till these sectors are normalised
Justice Rekha Palli further said that if warranted, the Union Sports Ministry may look into the affairs of the TTFI as well.
The court said that in the present times, citizens cannot be prevented from exercising their rights because of a rigid interpretation of a law that calls for "personal presence".