Respite for parents: Centre okays Chandigarh admn’s proposal of capping school fee hike
Union govt tells HC it has accepted UT proposal, not yet clear whether cap will be flat 8% or linked to inflationpunjab Updated: Mar 27, 2018 10:29 IST
Multiple rounds of litigation by aggrieved parents before the Punjab and Haryana high court and local courts are finally bearing fruit.
The Union government has cleared the UT administration’s proposal of capping annual fee hike by private schools in the city, the Centre informed the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday. With the notification expected in two months, the new rules are likely to be implemented from the coming academic session.
The UT had proposed capping fee hike at 8% annually. However, the Centre wanted it to be linked with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for inflation. A clarification was also sought from the UT last year as to why fee hike should not be 2% of the CPI instead of flat 8%. To this, the UT had replied the 8% formula is simpler.
However, it is immediately not clear which formula the Centre has approved. Besides capping the fee, the UT had also proposed a regulatory authority and penalty for schools for violations. The Centre had agreed on other proposals.
- Capping annual fee hike at 8% of previous year’s fee
- Constitution of a regulatory panel to be headed by education secretary
- Complaint to be probed within 15 days, decision within 60 days
- Fine for violations: Rs 60,000 on primary school, Rs 1 lakh on middle school, Rs 2 lakh on secondary school
- All other funds charged by schools to be covered under these rules
UT to adopt Punjab law
The information on finalisation of policy was given during the hearing on a bunch of petitions. Assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal produced a letter of confirmation written to the UT, in which it was stated that the department of school education and literacy of Union ministry of human resource development and ministry of legal affairs have cleared the draft notification.
The legislative department, too, has vetted the draft for extending the Punjab law to UT, the court was told, adding that the Centre was in the process of notifying the law in its official gazette.
The proposal in this regard was sent to the Centre for approval in April last year after multiple petitions were filed before the HC and parents had come out on streets to protest exorbitant fee hike by some city schools.
The UT has adopted the Punjab government law — Punjab Regulations of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutional Act, 2016, with certain amendments.
Issue hanging fire for long
The HC, in 2013, had directed Punjab, Haryana and UT to form separate panels to look into the matter and put in place a regulatory mechanism.
The UT had then formed a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of justice RS Mongia (retd), chartered accountant Vipul Kansal and former UT education department official Prithpal Kaur. However, the panel was able to submit a report at the end of 2016 only, while most private schools kept on hiking fee by 10-15% every year.
As the UT did not take any measure to regulate fee, protests started in early 2016 and news reports also highlighted the issue.
The administration initially kept on arguing that it had to follow Punjab law, which was not in place. As pressure mounted, it constituted a panel to prepare a policy. But its legal experts suggested against it. By the time the UT decided to approach court for permission in 2017, the Punjab enacted a law, which the UT will be adopting now.