May 1, 2009 2:44:36 am
The Delhi High Court on Thursday held that the government direction to public schools,making it mandatory for them to get the consent of Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) before applying for a fee hike,was prima facie illegal.
The Education department had on April 16 issued a circular giving an ultimatum to all schools to either call a general body meeting of the PTA within 30 days or face a roll back of the hike.
A Division Bench led by Justice A K Sikri issued a stay on the circulars requirement granting PTAs the final say on any fee hike. The stay will be operational till May 25,the next date of hearing.
Till the next date of hearing,a stay is put in place against the mandatory convening of the PTA to seek its approval, the Bench ordered.
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To call a PTA meeting,during which the school had to place financial statements indicating income and expenditure on each account to justify a hike would be tantamount to getting the PTA to agree to the hike,the Bench observed in its order.
This mandate is contrary to the working of the Grievances Redressal Committee,formed under the February 11,2009 government order, the court observed.
This is equal to asking the service receiver the parent to decide on the price of the services extended by the service provider,the schools, Rakesh Khanna,counsel for the Unaided Private Schools Association,said.
As per the February 11 order,which introduced the fee hike structure for recognised private schools in the academic session of 2008-2009,the Committee was formed as the sole authority to hear and resolve disputes brought before it by a school or parent. The panel comprises the Director of Education as chairperson,two members and a chartered accountant.
The government order hardly denies the right of schools to raise the fee within the permitted cap. This notification (April 16) means that now parents have the last say, Khanna said.
Meanwhile,the court also issued a notice to the government on a petition filed by advocate Ashok Agarwal for the Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh challenging the fee hike.
According to the February 11 order,schools charging between Rs 501 to Rs 1,000 can hike their fee by Rs 200. Those charging between Rs 1,001 to Rs 1,500 per month can hike their fee by Rs 300. Institutions charging within the range of Rs 1,501 to Rs 2,000 can hike their fee by Rs 400,while those charging above Rs 2,000 per month may increase their fee by Rs 500.
The order was passed by the government in the light of the pay hike recommended by the 6th Pay Commission.
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