The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay the AAP government’s proposed action against a private school for not refunding excess fee allegedly charged by it on the pretext of implementing the 6th Pay Commission. A bench of justices Sunil Gaur and C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) seeking its response on the school’s plea challenging the department’s May 29 notice to the institution to refund the excess fees.
The private school is one of 531 institutions which as per the high court-appointed Justice Anil Dev Singh committee had charged excess fees on the pretext of implementing the 6th Pay Commission. In its May 29 notice, sent to several defaulting schools, the DoE had said that failure to refund the excess fees as recommended by the panel could lead to de-recognition of the institution or taking over of its management by the department as per the Delhi School Education Act and Rules of 1973.
The school contended before the court that it had several times made a representation to the DoE and the panel seeking review of its recommendation, but till date no decision has been taken. The lawyer for the school sought stay of the notice saying its representation is yet to be decided.
In response to this, additional standing counsel of the Delhi government, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, said neither the DoE nor the panel itself can review its recommendation and the school ought to have come to court much earlier. After hearing the brief arguments, the court listed the matter for hearing on June 14 by when the DoE has to file its response.
The notice of May 29 was issued by the DoE after the court had asked the department to ensure compliance of the committee’s recommendations. The court’s direction had come on a plea by an NGO, Abhibhavak Mahasangh, which had alleged that the DoE was not ensuring implementation of the recommendations of the committee.
The panel was set up in 2011 by the high court to review the fees of the private schools. After examining 1092 private schools, the panel had said
that 531 among them had charged excess fee and recommended that it should be refunded with nine per cent interest. It had also recommended special inspection of 247 schools.
The DoE had on May 31 filed an affidavit listing the measures already taken and intended to be taken by it, after perusing which the court had directed the department to take the steps it has laid out and had listed the matter for further hearing on August 10.
The NGO in its plea has claimed that over 500 private schools were yet to refund Rs 350 crore of excess fee taken from students on the pretext of implementing the 6th Pay Commission. It had sought initiation of contempt proceedings against all such institutions.