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Focus on education not profits, court tells school

Cuffe Parade school refuses to refund fee when student sought leaving certificate.

mumbai Updated: Nov 16, 2010 01:19 IST
HT Correspondent

The sole aim of educational institutes should not be making profit by hook or crook, the Bombay High Court observed on Monday.

The high court was hearing a petition filed by Anil Rajgarhia.

He alleged that the BD Somani International School at Cuffe Parade "compelled" his son, Aniket, to pay fees for the following year, but refused to refund the amount when he went to take his school-leaving certificate.

The school offers a two-year international baccalaureate diploma after Std 10.

The division bench of justices PB Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar observed: "Prima facie, we find substance that educational institutes should not be solely interested in making profits by hook or by crook. After all education is a pious activity."

Majmudar said: "Try to be fair.... we are against such institutes doing commercial activity to enrich itself at the cost of education."

"This affects a child on the threshold of his career," added Bhatkar.

Aniket had attended the term of Class 11 during 2008-09, but was disallowed to appear for the final exams unless he paid Rs 2.50 lakh fee for the next year.

Later, Rajgarhia decided to shift Aniket to a college offering higher secondary certificate (HSC) curriculum. However, the school refused to refund the fee.

When the judges asked whether the school had any students who were not paying fees, the school’s lawyer, Sujay Kantawala, replied there were none.

AL Gore, Rajgarhia lawyer, argued that the school’s practice of forcibly collecting fees in advance was unethical. Gore also argued that the school had not suffered any financial loss as it had admitted another student.

Kantawala, however, opposed the petition stating that a writ petition was not maintainable since it was a private unaided school. Also, the fees are bifurcated for every semester and accordingly fees were collected.

Once the student is enrolled, the fees are payable irrespective of whether a student continues or not. It is difficult for an IB school, which offers two-ears courses, to admit a student for the second year, he said.

The petition is kept along with another similar petition for hearing on December 15.