SC puts Centre, Chandigarh admn on notice on private schools’ plea
The Centre and UT administration have been put on notice by the Supreme Court, after the Independent School Association, Chandigarh, filed a petition against the Punjab and Haryana high court’s ruling on uploading of balance sheets online.
The apex court heard the matter on August 27, and has sought a reply on the issue from the government within three weeks.
Earlier this year, the UT education department had issued show-cause notices to private schools, warning of penalties for not uploading balance sheets for the last financial year.
The Independent School Association, which represents around 78 schools in the tricity, had then approached the high court against the notices and constitution of a fee regulatory authority. They reasoned that uploading balance sheets would violate their right to privacy and would also make it difficult to run schools.
However, the bench of justices Jaswant Singh and Sant Parkash had ruled against the schools. “Since the field of education is a charitable occupation, we do not find any reason to hold that uploading of the financial statements... will breach the right to privacy,” the 107-page judgment noted.
Following this, on August 19, the education department had written to all schools to upload their balance sheets within two months or face action.
“There are a few constitutional irregularities in the ruling, which we have pointed out in the petition to the Supreme Court,” said HS Mamik, president of Independent School Association.
Meanwhile, senior officials of the education department maintained that they are just enforcing the high court’s directions. An official, who did not wish to be named, said that failure to upload balance sheets will invite action under the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Act, 2016, as extended to the UT and adopted in 2018. “Such schools can also be held in contempt of court,” he said.