HC raps Delhi govt for non-refund of excess fees taken by unaided schools

The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the city government over delay in refunding the excess fee taken by unaided private schools.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the city government over delay in refunding the excess fee taken by unaided private schools.

A bench of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul also sought a status report from the government's Directorate of Education (DoE) saying it should spell out the steps taken on the issue.

"What DoE is doing. It is doing nothing. Please let us know what is the status," the bench said, while seeking the report within eight weeks.

The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on October 28.

The direction came after the bench was informed that the unaided schools have failed to refund the excess fees as per its earlier order.

The court had earlier asked the government to implement recommendations of a panel on the unaided private schools' fee structure, which had asked 242 institutions to return the "excess amount" to parents with nine percent interest.

The court had also said that the committee has submitted four reports based on examination of fee structures of unaided private schools and questioned why the government has not initiated the process of refunding the excess fee.

The Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee, which had made the recommendations, has so far examined the accounts of around 605 unaided private schools out of a total 1,172 institutions.

Till now, the committee has recommended that 242 schools should return the excess fees collected from parents with nine percent interest from 2008 to 2011.

After the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report, the schools increased the fees, citing additional financial burden due to increased salaries of teachers.

In August 2011, the court gave directions for setting up a three-member committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the fee hike was required.

This order had come on a petition filed by an NGO Social Jurists, through advocate Ashok Agarwal, which had alleged that schools hiked the fees "unreasonably" but failed to pay the salaries of the teaching and non-teaching staff as per the pay panel recommendations.

The court, thereafter, directed that the nodal officer

shall continue to work in that position for a year from today.

It also directed that he shall indicate in a tabular statement all the steps undertaken by the Delhi government in compliance of the high court's earlier judgement.

The bench asked the officer to indicate the time frame for implementing the steps remaining to be implemented.

It also said it will appoint an amicus curiae to assist it in the present case.

Meanwhile, advocate Anshumaan Sahni, appearing for the petitioner Pramod Arora, father of a differently-abled child, contended that the Delhi government says it received information from 156 private schools and then submits in court that there are 1300 such schools in the national capital, "so where is the information regarding the rest of them?"

He sought that punitive action be taken against the erring schools.

The court was hearing a contempt plea filed by Arora, alleging that the court's May 7 order has not been complied with.

Arora had initially challenged the Lieutenant Governor's nursery admission guidelines which clubbed CWSN with children belonging economically weaker section (EWS) category.

Pursuant to this, the high court had held that the clubbing of CWSN with EWS for nursery admissions was illegal.

On May 29, this year, the court had pulled up the city government for not taking concrete steps to implement its orders regarding setting aside of seats by schools in nursery class for CWSN.  

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