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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Bihar caps annual fee hike in private schools at 7%

The schools planning increase in fee by more than 7% will require approaching the committee six months prior to the commencement of the new session.

education Updated: Feb 19, 2019 15:16 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi is demonstrating with RJD MLCs at the gate of Bihar Legislative Council in Patna during Budget Session
Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi is demonstrating with RJD MLCs at the gate of Bihar Legislative Council in Patna during Budget Session(Santosh Kumar)
         

In a big relief to parents of schoolchildren, the Bihar Assembly on Monday passed the Bihar Private Schools (Fee Regulation) Bill, 2019, which mandates not more that 7% annual increase on fees and imposes a heavy penalty on the institutions that violate the law.

Many states have already come up with legislations for regulating fees in private schools. These include UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

As per the new law, if the annual increase is more than 7%, its relevance will have to be presented before the fee regulation committee, which will take a final decision. The schools will be required to provide all details regarding not just the fee, but all other expenditure like on on books, dress, development charge, admission and readmission fee, on the school’s website.

Tabling the Bill, education minister Krishna Nandan Verma said the government had been receiving complaints about arbitrary increase in fee and other charges for a long time and the Patna High Court had also directed the government in 2016 to frame a legislation in this regard.

Under the Bill, there is a provision of a fee regulation committee in all the nine divisions of the state. They will be headed by divisional commissioner, and comprise two guardians and two representatives of the private schools nominated by him, regional deputy director of education and district education officer of the divisional headquarters.

The schools planning increase in fee by more than 7% will require approaching the committee six months prior to the commencement of the new session. The committee in return will apprise the school of its decision at least three months prior to the start of session, failing which the proposal will be deemed to have been passed. The government will, however, have the authority to revise the 7% cap from time to time.

The bill makes it compulsory for the schools to make class-wise display of dress, books and other products on their websites and noticeboard, which the guardians will be free to purchase from anywhere. It will not be binding on the parents to make purchases from the school outlets only. Schools found forcing parents to make purchases from their outlets will be liable for punishment.

The bill empowers parents to lodge a complaint with the office of the divisional commissioners within 30 days in case of fee hike above 7%. The schools will be required to keep their accounts updated and audited for income-expenditure details.

The fine print

Up to 7%: Prescribed annual fee hike

If over 7%: Approach fee panel 6 months prior

Rs 1 lakh: Fine for first offence

Rs 2 lakh: Fine for 2nd offence and thereafter

30 days: Time limit for parents to lodge complaint

60 days:: Time limit for decision by committee

First Published: Feb 19, 2019 15:16 IST

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