HC questions state order on regulating fees
After losing the legal battle for regulating junior college admissions, the state government is likely to face embarrassment on another front—regulating the fee structure of private unaided schools.mumbai Updated: Sep 01, 2010 02:10 IST
After losing the legal battle for regulating junior college admissions, the state government is likely to face embarrassment on another front—regulating the fee structure of private unaided schools.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday found two government resolutions (GR), of July 1999 and July 2010, regarding the regulation of fee structures of private, unaided schools, contrary to provisions of the Prohibition of Capitation Fees Act, 1987.
The July GR provides for approving the fee structure of these schools through committees headed by regional deputy directors of education. The GR said every such school is required to fix its fee structure and forward a proposal for the concerned committee’s approval.
A division bench of Justice D. K. Deshmukh and Justice N. D. Deshpande, however, said the mechanism [involving fee approval committees] was totally contrary to the provisions of the Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act.
“The GR provides for fee approval committees under regional deputy directors of education, while the Act mandates the state government to approve the fee structure of the schools,” the bench observed. It noted that in absence of delegating powers, regional deputy directors could not perform the duty of the state government.
The court indicated that the GRs cannot sustain legal challenge and offered to set aside both the GRs and let the plea challenging the Constitutional validity of the Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act alive.
The judges adjourned the matter until Wednesday after government pleader Dhairyasheel Nalawade asked for some time.
The petitioners, the Unaided Schools Forum, Association of International Schools and Principals’ Foundation, have also challenged the Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act apart from challenging the GRs seeking to regulate fees of private, unaided schools.
Their counsel Aspi Chinoy on Tuesday argued that the state government had no authority to regulate the fees of private, unaided schools in view of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the TMA Pai Foundation case.
Chinoy said the state can only ensure that there is no profiteering beyond reasonable limit. He also argued that the apex court has equated imparting education with an occupation, and thus educational institutions have the fundamental right to open and run schools. He said reasonable restrictions on a fundamental right can only be through a legislation and not through administrative orders like GRs.