No school fee hikes for now
Thanks to a campaign by a parents’ association of a Navi Mumbai school, there is now a stay on fee hikes across Maharashtra’s schools irrespective of the board they are affiliated to.
The Students’ Welfare Association of Balbharti Public School, Kharghar, had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court challenging a fee hike introduced by the school.
Sugandh Deshmukh, the association’s advocate, said the school had abruptly hiked its fees by over 57 per cent. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) school, which charged Rs 1,400 a month for Classes 3 to 8, had hiked fees to Rs 2,200 per month.
In 1987, Deshmukh said, the Maharashtra Capitation Fees Act came into force, making it mandatory for the government to form a committee to monitor school fees. “However, no such committee was formed,” he pointed out.
In reply, Additional Government Pleader Arun Palekar told the court that the government would form the committee within eight weeks. The committee would be similar to the Shikshan Shulkar Samiti, which monitors and recommends fee structures in medical and technical colleges.
Palekar said they required the time because they needed permission from the Finance Department and would also have to place the proposal before the Cabinet. Till the time the committee is in place, he said, the government would issue a circular prohibiting schools — aided and unaided — from hiking fees. The circular would apply to Secondary School Certificate (SSC), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and CBSE schools. Sanjay Kumar, Education Department secretary, confirmed the circular would prohibit hikes till the committee is in place.
The division bench of Justices JN Patel and Mrudula Bhatkar fixed the next hearing for June 30, when the government must inform the court of the progress made.
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