"Delhi govt, students file plea in HC against order allowing private schools to charge annual fees"

4th June,2021

"Delhi govt, students file plea in HC against order allowing private schools to charge annual fees"

Several appeals have been filed in the Delhi High Court, including one by the AAP government, over a single judge's order permitting private unaided recognised schools to collect yearly and development charges from pupils for the period after the national capital's lockdown ended last year.

The applications filed on behalf of students in private unaided schools claimed that the single judge's judgement on May 31 was based on wrong facts and law.The single judge quashed two office orders issued by the Delhi government's Directorate of Education (DoE) in April and August 2020 forbidding and postponing the collection of annual charges and development fees, saying they were "illegal" and "ultra vires" the respondent's powers under the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act and Rules.

According to the sole judge, the Delhi government does not have the authority to postpone the collection of yearly charges and development fees by private unaided schools indefinitely since it would unduly restrict their operations.The Delhi government argues in its appeal, filed through its standing counsel Santosh K Tripathi, that the directives between April and August last year were given in the public interest since people were in financial distress as a result of the lockdown.

The Department of Education has argued that "charging fees is not the only source of supplemental income," and that any remark to the contrary will not only be detrimental to the interests of private unaided schools, but will also make regulation difficult.The Department of Education has stated that if schools are not regulated, they will set their own price structure "as per their whims and fancies," and that it is therefore required to not allow any other types of costs to be imposed as 'fees.'

Students' appeals alleged that establishment costs, including as building repairs, administrative expenses, rent, and hostel fees, were not applicable when the schools were closed.The ruling came on May 31 in response to a petition filed by Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools, which represents 450 private unaided schools and was represented by counsel Kamal Gupta.

The organisation had challenged the Department of Education's two office directives from April and August of last year, claiming that they limited the ability of private unaided accredited schools to set their own rates.