Delhi’s AAP government and several students have challenged the May 31 order of Delhi High Court that allows private unaided schools in the city to collect annual fees and development charges.
Last year, the government had prohibited private schools from forcing parents to pay annual charges and development fee during the COVID-19 lockdown saying that “schools being charitable organisations are adopting an inhumane approach by charging parents more in the unprecedented time.”
But the two orders in this regard, issued on April 18 and August 28, were challenged in the High Court in September last year.
A single-judge bench of the high court hearing the case ruled that schools may collect these charges for the last academic year, on a monthly basis, but only after a 15 percent reduction in the payable amount.
The judge said that the Delhi government has no power to indefinitely postpone the collection of annual charges and development fees by schools as it would unreasonably restrict their functioning.
What was the Delhi Government’s order?
The Delhi government had last April issued an order stating, “No fee, except the tuition fee, will be charged from parents during the lockdown period.” The fee was to be collected on a monthly basis against the quarterly or yearly payments as was the norm.
The order further said, “Annual fee and Development charges can be collected from the parents, on a pro-rata basis, only on a monthly basis after completion of lockdown period.”
However, the government in August told the schools that since students were not attending physical classes, this amount can’t be collected.
What does the Delhi HC order say?
In September 2020, the Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools, an umbrella body of 450 private unaided schools in Delhi, moved the high court against the government, saying that the orders curtail the rights of the educational institutions to fix their own fees.
Delhi HC has cancelled the previous order paving the way for schools to collect the annual fees and charges for the academic year 2020-21, as fixed and approved, with a 15 percent deduction. The fees are to be paid in six monthly installments from June 10, 2021, the HC decided.
The court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit schools from collecting charges as it is “illegal'' and “ultra vires” to the powers of Delhi Government’s Directorate of Education under the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act and Rules.
The order further said, “it would be open to the schools to give further concession to their students or to evolve a different pattern for giving concession, management shall not debar any student from attending online classes or physical classes or withhold exam results on account of non-payment of fees and students' name for Board exams shall also not be withheld over non-payment of fees/arrears,” as per a report in NDTV.
Parents to shell out more?
Now with schools allowed to collect tuition fees as well as annual charges, it’s going to put additional pressure on families already struggling with declining incomes. The annual fees and development charges by private schools would range anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per student. This will be applicable to all students who attended last academic year and also for students who are awaiting class 12 board exams results.