In a huge relief to parents, unaided private schools in the Capital can no longer ask students for more than a month's fees at one time as against the present practice of quarterly payments.
The Delhi high court on Wednesday also fixed 10th of the month as the last day of depositing fees.
“A reading of the Delhi school education rules shows that a school cannot charge advance fees except for one month at a time,” justice Valmiki J Mehta said.
Unaided schools do not depend on the government for financial aid.
Parents of 10 students of Summer Field School in Kailash Colony had challenged the practice of charging fee on quarterly basis, terming it illegal. They told the court that they didn't earn enough to pay a substantial sum every three months.
“The order is a huge relief to students from economically weaker sections. It will also prevent commercialisation as schools earned huge interest from the lump-sum deposits”, said Ashok Aggarwal, the lawyer for the parents.
The school said it charged fee in accordance with a Delhi government circular.
The education directorate had no power to issue circulars in violation of Delhi school education rules, the court said. “Once rules are statutory in character, it is not possible for director of education to issue circulars in violation of these rules...,” the court said.
School associations said the move was ill-timed. “The courts always come out with such guidelines in the middle of the academic session,” said RC Jain, president, Delhi State Public Schools Management Association. “All the schools have got their fee slips and other documents printed according to the earlier rule. We will have to face losses due to this.”