In a relief to parents of schoolchildren, the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday upheld the law enacted by the previous Assembly to regulate the fees of self-financed schools in the state, calling it “constitutional and legally valid”.
The Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, which was introduced by the BJP government in March this year and was passed by the outgoing Assembly, prescribed a ceiling for primary, secondary and higher secondary schools at Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 27,000 per year, respectively. The law was, however, challenged by various schools affiliated to the CBSE, ICSE and the state education board.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul M Pancholi said that the rules framed under the Act were “reasonable restrictions, within the meaning of the Article 19 (6) of the Constitution”, and ruled out the schools’ contention that the law was repugnant to the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009.
The bench, however, permitted schools to file representation to Fee Regulatory Committees (FRC) within a period of six weeks for modification of exemption limit mentioned in the notification. “If such representations are filed, the competent authority (FRC) should consider such representations and pass appropriate orders within a period of six weeks thereafter. If the competent authority comes to the conclusion that exemption limit is required to be revised, it shall take necessary steps to issue necessary notification… and the same would be effective from the (next) academic year 2018-2019,” the court ordered.
Welcoming the verdict, the BJP government, which had introduced the Bill in its last term, said that the court’s decision reaffirms the constitutional validity of the Act and will benefit 37.60 lakh students. “Happy to share that Gujarat High Court has today validated Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017 — the Act was passed by Gujarat Assembly with an aim to control the “exorbitant fees” charged by private schools in the state,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tweeted.