The implementation of the recent school fee hike approved by the Delhi Government a month ago has come under legal challenge for the first time.
The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Delhi Government and the Directorate of Education on a petition filed by major Catholic schools, including Carmel, Mater Dei, St. Colombus, St. Xaviers, Holy Cross and Father Agnel, challenging the slab for enforcing the hike. Terming it “unreasonable”, the schools said the right to fix the fee was the “prerogative of the management”. The Delhi Government has to reply by March 16.
According to the order passed by the Director of Education on February 2, schools charging between Rs 501 to Rs 1,000 can hike their fee by Rs 200. While those charging between Rs 1,001 to Rs 1,500 per month can make an increase of Rs 300. Those charging between Rs 1,501 to Rs 2,000 can make a hike of Rs 400 whereas those charging above Rs 2,000 per month may increase fee by Rs 500.
“The hike cap is unfair. Schools charging lesser fees are permitted less fee hike and those charging higher fees are permitted bigger hike. As a result, schools run by Christian minority which charge low tuition fee are permitted a fee hike of Rs 200 or Rs.300 per month, whereas other public schools charging higher fee are permitted bigger hikes,” said Romy Chacko, the lawyer representing the schools, told the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat.
“It is to be remembered that the liability arising out of the Sixth Pay Recommendation, after which the fee hike was approved is the same for all schools. In a way, it amounts to penalising the minority educational institutions for the sole reason that they charge low tuition fee,” said Chacko.
The prestigious schools said besides charging low fee compared with several other unaided educational institutions, they also provide fee concession to students who belong to lower income group irrespective of their religious status.