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High Court panel to audit private schools’ accounts

Courts and PILs

Holding that the fee hike resorted to by the Capital’s private recognised schools in 2009 was an interim measure, the Delhi High Court on Friday constituted a three-member committee to inspect and audit the accounts of these schools.

The terms of reference for the committee headed by retired Chief Justice Anil Dev Singh of the Rajasthan High Court are to find out how much funds these schools require to meet their increased financial obligations following the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations on pay hike for their staff and on that basis to determine how much fee hike, if at all, was required by them.

The committee will also have chartered accountant J. S. Kochar and the third member will be nominated by the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government from the field of education.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Siddharth Mridul directed these schools to render full cooperation to the committee.

If the committee found that the increase in fees proposed is more, the same would be brought down and the excess amount paid by the students would be refunded along with nine per cent interest per annum, the Bench said.

It added that if a particular school was able to make out a case for higher increase in fee, then it would be permissible for such schools to recover from the students over and above what is charged in terms of the Delhi Government decision of February 2009 to allow these schools to hike the fees.

The Bench also pulled up the Directorate of Education of the Delhi Government for dereliction of duty for ensuring a rational fee structure for these schools as par the laid down rules and procedures.

The Bench suggested to the Government to set up a regulatory body to resolve the problem once and for all.

It also recommended to the Union Government to consider framing a national policy on fee hike for these schools operating across the country. “We recommend that the Government should consider this aspect. If necessary, an expert committee be constituted which can go into feasibility of establishing a regulatory body for unaided/aided and recognised private schools in Delhi and recommend the changes that are required to be made in the existing law or to suggest a separate legislation if that is required,” the Bench said.

“The Central Government may even consider the feasibility of formulating a national policy on fee,” the Bench added.

The orders came on separate petitions by three non-government organisations — the Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh, Social Jurist and Faith Academy — challenging the Delhi Government decision to allow the Capital’s private unaided schools to hike fees.

The petitioners had submitted that the decision to allow these schools hike the fees was arbitrary and illogical.

They further said the Government should not have allowed these schools to increase the fees without examining their financial records and going through the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court and the High Court for fee hike.

The Hindu, August 13, 2011


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