EWS admissions: HC directs private schools in Chandigarh to give fee, salary details
How much were teachers’ paid, how many EWS students were enrolled in past five years, private schools in Chandigarh told to answer
Close on the heels of the Chandigarh administration releasing the schedule for admission to entry-level classes, the Punjab and Haryana high court has sought various details from private schools, including fee collected, salaries paid to teachers and number of EWS students enrolled over the past five years.
The order was passed by the high court bench of justice Sandeep Moudgil, acting on a 2020 plea by Independent Schools’ Association, a body of city’s private schools, challenging UT’s instructions issued from time to time, making it mandatory for them to admit students under the economically weaker sections (EWS) category.
The plea has also demanded re-imbursement of fee incurred on account of 25% EWS admissions.
During these proceedings, the UT administration had told court it had refused to refund the expenditure, as under the conditions of allotment of plots to schools, they were bound to provide free education to EWS category students.
After hearing various parties, the court observed that it deemed it necessary to seek record and hence ordered accordingly.
Now, schools have been told to produce audited accounts, showing the collection of fee on various accounts — capitation fee, tuition fee, etc., during one academic year, especially from students aged between six and 14. They have also been told to detail the mode of selection and procedure as well as the educational qualification possessed by the faculty, and whether they fulfil essential educational qualification and other criteria.
The schools have also been told to submit the accounts showing credit of salary to the teachers, along with the detail of their bank accounts. Details be submitted of number of students admitted under EWS category in the last five years, it said.
They have also been told to supply documents about the recognition, memorandum of articles and its constitution showing aims and objects for establishment. Further, schools have been asked to tabulate details of seats in different classes for the 6 to 14 age group, and out of these, how many remained unfilled out of quota meant for 15% seats for the EWS category.
The court also passed directions to Chandigarh administration to provide data of EWS students before it comes from various schools and details about EWS category seats lying vacant in government schools. It further said documents about the manner of computation of charges liable to be re-imbursed to private schools be also produced. The details are to be submitted by December 7.
Free EWS education mandatory under UT’s land allotment scheme
Chandigarh has some 80-odd private schools, of which 22 are minority schools.
In 2012, the Supreme Court had ruled that schools with minority status were not obligated to reserve 25% seats for the EWS category under the Right to Education Act, which was followed by a spurt in cases of schools seeking minority status.
As per UT administration’s submissions in high court previously, educational institutes in the city were allotted land on leasehold basis under a 1996 scheme, according to which they were required to admit 5% students as part of social responsibility from EWS category without charging any dues. The 5% limit was enhanced to 15% in 2005, and covered all schools that got land prior to this policy or after the notification of the policy.
In view of this, schools are entitled for reimbursement for only 10% EWS students and not 25% students admitted by them each year, UT has maintained.
It has also challenged the minority status of five schools in high court, which is at various stages of adjudication.