International schools, under the government scanner for allegedly collecting capitation fees, were surprised with the education department’s move to conduct an inquiry into their accounts.
Schools’ representatives maintained that they had nothing to hide.
On Friday, the undersecretary of the school education department filed an affidavit in the Bombay high court stating that the deputy director of education would inspect the books of accounts of these schools to determine if there were any irregularities.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-profit group.
“Our books are open, we have absolutely nothing to hide,” said N Balasubramanian, director of NES International School in Mulund, one of the schools named in the PIL.
“Our school has never stood for any kind of profiteering. But if there is this kind of clampdown then it will affect quality and international schools will not be able to operate.”
The PIL alleges that 19 schools, including Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Ecole Mondiale and the Billabong schools, are illegally making profit. The government’s report will be submitted to the court before April 30.
The PIL also alleges that the schools charge extra under categories such as admissions fee, caution money, imprest money, and technical upgrade, which is another form of capitation fee.
Officials of Billabong pointed out that they only charged fees under the heads of tuition fees and term fees, and an admissions fee for “administrative” purposes.
“According to the capitation fee Act, admission fee is not a form of capitation fee,” said Kusum Kanwar, head of school operations of the Billabong schools.
Schools said they were unaware about the PIL, but added that they need to look into the matter. “The allegations of profiteering against our school are not accurate,” said Andreas Swoboda, head of Oberoi International School in Goregaon.