Following an order by the Bombay high court, the state government will now have to reimburse fees and other expenses incurred by unaided schools on SC/ST school students.
The government has till May 10 to reimburse the fees of over nine lakh students belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes that were left unpaid since 2007.
Under the provisions made in 1970 for the education of students belonging to the reserved categories, schools would offer 'freeships' to students and then be reimbursed by the state. But in 2007, the state stopped paying the schools citing a lack of funds.
"The government cannot say that they do not have enough funds. They should make mandatory budgetary provisions for this," said Shyam Sonar, convenor of the Samaan Shikshan Mulbhoot Adhikar Samiti.
In an order passed on April 4, the high court asked the state to restart the reimbursements mandated under the Right to Education Act (2009). The schools will be paid Rs. 10,463 per student per year till standard 7 or the amount spent, whichever is lesser, irrespective of the incomes of the students' parents. The money will be paid from academic year 2010- 2011.
For students in higher classes, the reimbursement is according to the recommendations made by a state-appointed committee in 2010. Schools in Mumbai are reimbursed Rs. 350, while those under other municipal corporations are paid lesser.
Schools are also to be reimbursed for OBC, VJNT (Nomadic groups) and other reserved categories in cases where the parents' annual income is less than Rs. 1 lakh.