In its ambition to earn brownie points with the people of Delhi, it seems that the Kejriwal government inadvertently made false claims about the recent rollback of the hiked fees in the capital.
Advertorials paid for by the government – in leading Delhi newspapers on Sunday – claimed that, “For the first time, private schools roll back fee; four schools roll back fees in 15 days.”
However, this is not the first time that private schools in Delhi have been ordered to roll back fees.
Earlier, the Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee, constituted in August 2011 by the Delhi High Court to "examine the records and accounts etc of all unaided private recognised schools of Delhi to justify the fee hike by each school while implementing the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission,” had submitted nine reports by 2015, recommending “a refund of fee unjustly hiked” in several private schools.
“The claim made in newspapers about the rollback of the hiked fees is not correct. It’s not the first time that any action has been taken against the schools for hiking fees. Earlier, Justice Anil Dev Singh committee had asked several schools to refund the excess fees it found unjustified," said Ashok K Pandey, chairperson, National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC).
"The panel also went through the records, balance sheets of many schools, and after finding irregularities, refund of hiked fees was recommended,” Pandey said.
Following up on the recommendations, the Delhi High Court had – in August 2014 – pulled up the Delhi government for non-compliance of the Committee’s order.
The NPSC, a 43-year old association of senior secondary schools across the country, has also objected to the claim made in the Delhi government’s advertisement – that private schools cannot hike fees without the permission of the state government.
Referring to Clause 17 of the Delhi School Education Act & Rule, 1973, Pandey said, “Private schools are empowered to raise fees and the decision is taken by a duly recognized 17-member managing committee including two government representatives and two parents’ representatives. The school has to inform the Directorate of Education about the hike before the academic session begins. There’s no mention of ‘Approval/Permission’ per se in the Act.”
However, things changed in January this year, when Delhi HC said that the schools built on land allotted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) cannot hike the fee without taking prior permission from the Delhi government.
The judgment came folowing a PIL filed by an NGO – Justice For All – based on DDA’s land allotment letter to schools.
“The Action Committee of Unaided Private Schools has moved Court and the matter is sub-judice. Moreover, the way Delhi government has given advertisements related to fee roll back in newspapers under the garb of non-partisan reportage that looks like an actual news item is wrong," a private school principal told Firstpost.
"A common man fails to distinguish between an advertisement and news. In an attempt to blow its own trumpet, the Delhi government is sending incorrect message amongst public,” the principal said.
The private unaided schools feel that the autonomy guaranteed to them by the Supreme Court and the Constitution is being infringed upon.
“Autonomy guaranteed to the schools is sacrosanct. Private unaided schools under the Constitution have been given certain autonomy. A HC judgment mentions that autonomy of private schools guaranteed under the Constitution is the schools’ fundamental right,” added Pandey.
However, the action taken by the Delhi government – asking a few schools in Delhi to roll back the excess fees – has brought cheers to a large number of parents, and is being considered as a 'bold step'.
“It’s a bold and benevolent step taken by the Kejriwal government – by asking Kalka Public School (KPS) and a few others to roll back the hiked fee. The hike in fee was very high in the case of KPS and the prompt action by government compelled the school authorities to roll back the hike. But, this process should continue as the private schools arbitrarily hike fees every year,” said Tejinder Singh, a parent.
Updated Date: May 02, 2016 16:14 PM