The Delhi High Court rejected a plea Wednesday to review its judgment making it mandatory for schools which had been allotted land by the DDA on concessional rates to take prior permission from the Directorate of Education before raising their fees.
The judgment issued by the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayanat Nath said that the order under review “cannot be held to have suffered from any error” and rejected the plea file by the school associations. The bench had issued its initial judgment in January this year on a PIL filed by the NGO ‘Justice for All’.
However, the bench has noted that certain issues regarding separate rules for developed Nazul lands had not been touched upon in the PIL, and therefore schools on such land could challenge any action taken by the DoE before a court.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took to social media to welcome the judgment, and claim a win for the Delhi government. In a press statement, Sisodia said the judgment will “give a boost” to the AAP government’s attempt to make private schools more transparent and answerable to the public.
Advocate Khagesh Jha, who had represented the petitioner NGO, also said that the judgment was a “green signal” in the “fight against teaching shops”.
The January 19 judgment had upheld the powers of the DoE to “interfere” if the fee hike was found to be excessive. “Quantum of fees to be charged by unaided schools is subject to regulation by DoE in terms of the power conferred under Section 17(3) of DSE Act, 1973 and he is competent to interfere if hike in fee by a particular school is found to be excessive and perceived as indulging in profiteering,” the bench had said. The court had also directed the DoE and DDA to ensure compliance of the terms of the letter of allotment of land to the private unaided schools, noting that the land agreements had included stipulations regarding school fee.
While hearing the review plea, the Delhi government informed the court that show cause notices had been issued to nine schools for hiking fee without prior approval.