In spite of directions from the Punjab and Haryana high court in April 2013 to come up with a mechanism to monitor the yearly fee hike by private schools, the UT education department has failed to act. The HC, three years ago, had directed Punjab, Haryana and UT to form separate panels to look into the matter on a petition from non-governmental organisation, Anti Corruption and Crime Investigation Cell, highlighting exorbitant and arbitrary fee hike by private schools.
The UT had then formed a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of justice RS Mongia (retd) to submit a report. However, no report has been submitted so far and with the final round of admissions on, most private schools hike fee by 10-15% every year.
UT education secretary Sarvjit Singh cited inability on the part of justice Mongia panel in submitting the report as the reason for not monitoring the fee hike.
“We have not received any report to date. Moreover, a mechanism needs to be put in place, since so many variables like building cost, teacher salaries, extra facilities are involved. Only the HC is the competent authority to form a law or mechanism and authorities are helpless,” he added.
Commenting on the delay in submission of the report, justice Mongia told HT: “I was hospitalised for three months and couldn’t work on the report. I have not recovered fully, but my other two partners in the panel have started working on the report. We should be able to present it in the coming month.”
“The HC judgment nowhere stated that we had to submit it within a fixed time,” he added, claiming that private schools needed to justify the reason behind fee hike.
Sources in the UT administration said that in September last year, the adviser had assured all that he would come up with a solution, but to no avail.
“The challenge is to work out a balance between schools’ autonomy and interests of parents and students,” said a parent.
Another parent, Ritika Arora, said the education department should ensure transparency.
About the committee
* Justice RS Mongia (retd) as chairman, chartered accountant Vipul Kansal and former UT education department official Prithpal Kaur are its members
* Was constituted in April 2013 and had taken financial records of about 70 private aided and unaided schools