Delhi govt outlines fee rules for 460 private schools
New Delhi: Three days after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Delhi high court order on annual fee collection by 460 private schools, the Delhi government on Thursday issued guidelines for the process of collecting last academic year’s annual charges and development fee retrospectively for these schools.
On May 31, the high court set aside two orders, prohibiting private schools from collecting annual charges and development fees during the Covid-induced lockdown, issued last year. The court directed that schools may collect these charges for the last academic year retrospectively in six monthly instalments starting from June 10, but only after applying a 15% reduction on total school fees in lieu of facilities not used by students during the lockdown. The court also allowed schools to charge the whole fee, including tuition fee and other charges, for the 2021-22 academic year.
“In order to clear the confusion and give much-needed relief to parents, Delhi government has issued an order to private schools to charge fees on monthly basis, under approved heads only but with a 15% deduction in the fees for academic year 2020-21,” said a statement issued by the government on Thursday.
For instance, if the monthly fee of the school in the academic session 2020-21 is ₹3,000, the schools are entitled to collect monthly fee of ₹2,550 following a deduction of 15%. “If the school has collected the fee in excess to the direction referred above, the same shall be refunded to the parents or adjusted in the subsequent month,” the statement said.
The clarification came after several parents said that the schools were offering a 15% rebate in the annual and development fee component instead of the tuition fee.
On Thursday, the Directorate of Education (DoE) asked schools not to debar any student from ongoing activities of the school or strike off their names from the school rolls if the parents are unable to pay the fee.
The state education department also said that the order is applicable only on the 460 schools which petitioned the high court.
“If any individual request is made by the parent/ward finding it difficult to remit annual fees for the academic year 2020-21 in the above terms, the school management (is) to consider such representation on a case-to-case basis sympathetically,” stated a circular issued by Director (Education) Udit Prakash Rai to private schools on Thursday.
The order directed that schools cannot charge transportation fee, collect fee on a quarterly basis, increase their fee this academic session until further orders. A senior education department official said that apart from the 460 petitioner schools, the remaining private schools cannot charge annual and development fee. “The petitioner schools had moved court for the annual and development charges and we are now enforcing the court order on it. The remaining schools will follow DOE orders issued in April and August last year,” the official said.
“[petitioner schools] shall neither stop payment of monthly salary nor reduce the existing total emolument to the teaching and non-teaching staff of their schools in the name of non-availability of total funds and arrange the funds in case of any shortfalls from the society/trust running the school,” the order stated.
Advocate Kamal Gupta, who appeared for the Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools in the case, said “These directives are in contempt. What has been dealt with and allowed in courts is annual and development charges with a discount of 15%. Tuition fee or reduction in it was never an issue in the court and was thus, never dealt with or reduced. If we charged other earmarked levies like transport, caution money, registration and admission fee, computers, medical and activities, then we would have given a 15% discount on everything. But when schools are charging on three heads, where is the question of giving a discount on tuition fee?”
Activists and parents welcomed the government intervention. Advocate Shikha Bagga, secretary at NGO Justice for All who represented parents in the case, said, “The DoE circular was much needed to clarify the actual fees that can be charged as per the orders from the high court. This is also subject to the outcome of the appeals scheduled in the high court on July 12. Schools would now need to refund the amount collected in excess, after deliberate misreading of order.”
Delhi Parents Association president Aprajita Gautam said they had been receiving multiple complaints from parents on the fee collection issue. “This is a welcome order but the order mentions petitioner schools. What about the rest of the private schools? The order isn’t clear about that. In case of violation of the order, the education department should opt for takeover instead of passing the order for inspection. Also, since a double-bench hearing is scheduled for July 12 on the same matter in the high court, the department could have waited before issuing these directives.”