Installation of air conditioners in schools cannot be a ground to hike tuition fees for paying electricity charges, the Delhi High Court said on Monday. It said providing facilities of ACs in the school cannot be connected with the curricular or co-curricular activity. The order came while declining to uphold the 15 per cent hike in tuition fees, by two city-based school, towards power charges and running of the AC system they had installed.
Justice V K Rao said that capital expenditure, like for setting up an air conditioning (AC) system, has to come from the savings made from the tuition. The court also said that even if electricity bills are a revenue expense, they cannot be met by increasing the tuition fees.
“The installation of air conditioning system cannot be termed to be connected with curricular activity and co-curricular activity. That apart the capital expenditure has to come through savings from the tuition. It is not the case of the petitioners that it is on account of savings that they have funded the air conditioning system.
“If that is so, the expenses incurred for electricity charges for running the AC system cannot be by way of increase in tuition fee. It is immaterial if defraying of electrical bills is in the nature of revenue expense but still, cannot be qualified to be met by way of increase in tuition fee, at least in the facts of this case,” the judge said.
The ruling came while dismissing the plea of the schools against a June 16, 2016, order of the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) holding that the 15 per cent hike in tuition fees was illegal. The schools had challenged the order saying, they hiked the tuition fee to meet the expenses incurred in maintaining and running the AC system and in paying the electricity bills for the same, which are all recurring expenses in the nature of revenue expenses. The schools had also claimed that AC have been installed for an academic purpose, the running cost for the same is thus a revenue expense for the improvement of curricular facilities.