Panel tells parents to pay hiked school fees

In March last year,the school announced fee hikes of 33 to 42 per cent across all classes.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: August 14, 2013 1:30 am

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) told parents of 60 children studying at VPM International School,Airoli,that they would have to pay the fees charged by the school as per a July 2013 Bombay High Court order,which held that the government would have no say in controlling the fee structure of private unaided schools,who do not get grant-in-aid,but spend huge amounts from their own funds on facilities and extracurricular activities for students.

In March last year,the school announced fee hikes of 33 to 42 per cent across all classes.

Around 100 parents opposed the fee hike,saying no approval was taken from the PTA. The parents then continued to pay the fees according to the previous year’s structure. The school accepted the cheques for two months and then started returning them. Subsequently,some parents paid the increased fees. In June,however,the school sent notices to 60 parents who refused to pay the new fees. The notice said the parents must either pay the fees or discontinue the admissions of their wards from June 3.

After the issue was reported in newspapers,the MSCPCR took suo motu cognisance of the matter.

“The High Court judgment also says that there should be no profiteering. Our dispute was against the hiked fees charged under various heads. For instance,why are Class I students being charged laboratory fees?” said a parent.

“We will wait for the commission’s order and study it before deciding our next course of action,” added the parent.

In its July 5 order,the Bombay High Court had struck down an order of principal secretary,school education and sports department,directing a private unaided school in Mazgaon to refund the fees for six years to the parents of three students as it did not obtain affiliation to ICSE board.

Diamond Jubilee High School,which was affiliated to the state board,had been getting aid from the government till the academic year 2006-07. However,that year onwards,the school decided to decline aid and convert to a private unaided institution seeking ICSE affiliation. The parents complained to the education inspector the school had enhanced fees for affiliation with the ICSE board but their children were still studying the SSC curriculum. The school said the enhanced fees had nothing to do with its affiliation; it had revamped the school and facilities,which increased its expenses.

The court observed that the secretary had proceeded against the school based on two government resolutions that were struck down by the HC in separate cases in 2010. “The right to establish and administer a private school is a right to carry on an occupation as guaranteed by Article 19(g) of the Constitution of India,” the court said,adding that reasonable restrictions can be placed on this right only by a law enacted by legislature.

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