The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government why it had not taken action against the private unaided schools which had not refunded the excess fees charged by them, citing implementation of the 6th pay commission, despite a court-appointed panel’s recommendation to return the money.
The court said it had passed an order seven years ago for refunding of excess fee collected by the schools to the parents but it had not been done yet. It said the schools had collected the money several years ago but no benefit was rendered to the parents as they had not even received back the principal amount paid by them to the schools.
A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Vinod Goel issued notice to the Delhi government on a plea for attaching bank accounts of the errant schools and sought its response by July 23, the next date of hearing. “The Directorate of Education shall file a detailed affidavit elaborating clearly and unequivocally the steps that it has taken and proposes to undertake in the averments made in the case in six weeks,” the court said.
The order came on an application moved by an NGO, Delhi Abhikbhavak Mahasangh, seeking directions to the Delhi government to attach bank accounts of 457 unaided private schools which had not refunded the excess fees charged from parents as recommended by the Justice (retd) Anil Dev Singh Committee in 2011.
The NGO, represented by advocate Ashok Agarwal, has also sought that the excess fees deposited in court by 118 schools, which challenged the recommendations, be released to the parents.
During the hearing, the bench observed that imparting educating was a spiritual function and added the relief would be for all the parents and not only for those who have approached the court. It also asked Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh to address the issue and do something about it. “You do something about it. On one hand you, say schools are indulging in commercialisation, on the other hand you don’t do anything. The court keep on issuing directions, it does not ring a bell with you. You tell us what technical difficulty you have. We might clear the path for you,” it said.
After examining 1,092 private schools, the panel had said that 531 among them had charged excess fee and recommended that it be refunded with nine per cent interest. It had also recommended special inspection of 247 schools.
The high court had set up the panel and issued directions for refund of excess fees in 2011 on a plea by the NGO. Thereafter, the NGO had moved the court in 2015-16 claiming that over 500 private schools were yet to refund Rs 350 crore of excess fee taken from students on the pretext of implementing the 6th pay commission. It had also sought initiation of contempt proceedings against all such institutions.
Subsequently, the Delhi government had on May 29 last year issued a notice to several defaulting schools, telling them that failure to refund the excess fees as recommended by the committee could lead to their de-recognition or taking over of their management by the department. Against the notice more than 118 schools moved the high court which is still hearing arguments in the matter.