Maharashtra walks back on plan to fix fees for coaching classes
Walking back on an earlier plan to have a committee regulate and decide the fees tuition classes in Maharashtra can charge, the state government has proposed to allow their owners to decide the fees — but with conditions. Some owners of tuition classes in the state welcomed the move, while others said the revisions to its original plan had loopholes that could be exploited.
A revised draft of the proposed bill, Maharashtra Private Tuition (Regulation) Act, 2018, which aims to regulate tuition classes in the state, now empowers the owners and organisations of such classes to decide the fees, but asserts that the fee needs to be “reasonable”.
The draft also said the fee structure should be decided after considering the income and expenditure the owner incurs, and should be “realistic” and “proper”. It further said the fee should not be “exploitative” to parents and students. The revised draft of the bill was prepared by a state-appointed 14-member expert panel of government officials and representatives of coaching classes in March. HT has a copy of the draft.
An earlier draft, made in December, had on the other hand, provided for the government to appoint a committee to set fees for various subjects taught in these classes, and for different parts of the state. If a coaching class wanted to charge more than the fee the state had set, in order to provide extra amenities, it would have needed to get approvals from the government.
“The earlier provisions were not proper. The current draft is more reasonable,” said Jagdish Walavalkar, president, Maharashtra Coaching Class Owners Association, and a member of the panel that prepared the draft. He said, “No one can control the fees [charged by a business]. The government doesn’t decide the fees of doctors and lawyers. It, however, wanted to have some control over it,” he said.
The revised draft also changed another contentious provision that had required classes to give 5% of their profits to the state. The classes will now have to give just 1% of the profit. The government proposes to use this amount to improve the training of school teachers.
Among other changes, the revised draft explicitly outlaws all forms of integrated coaching — where junior colleges and coaching classes would come together to allow students to skip college and attend only the coaching classes. Doing so would result in the schools, colleges and coaching classes losing their approval and license.
The government has relaxed a proposed penalty it had earlier imposed for violation of any provision of the act. Earlier, violators faced jail time of up to two years, or a fine of up ₹5 lakh or both. The revised draft says the penalty can range from fines to police action and cancellation of licenses.
Ladika Ruke, a coaching class owner, said the current draft had many loopholes and can give way to inspector raj and corruption. “At many places, the draft has not provided details. Much has been left to the discretion of the government. This will lead to corruption,” she said.
However, Walavalkar said the act can be successfully implemented if the government appointed a separate body to regulate tuition classes. “The government machinery is barely sufficient to look after the schools,” he said.