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The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the Delhi government on an application seeking immediate setting up of a court-mandated panel to audit the accounts of private schools that have been charging high tuition fees.
A division bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Siddharth Mridul issued notice to the government seeking its reply by Sep 9. Earlier, the same bench had given direction for setting up of a committee headed by former judge Anil Dev Singh to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the hike was required. The bench authorised the committee to scrutinise the accounts of minority schools as well. ‘If the committee finds that the hike was not required, the schools are bound to return the money to students with 9 percent interest rate,’ the bench had said in a 143-page verdict on Aug 12. The committee will also comprise J.S. Kochar, a chartered accountant, and an official from the Directorate of Education, to be nominated by the Delhi government’s chief secretary. The bench made it clear that the city government’s 2009 notification will be treated as an interim measure but it would be subject to the scrutiny. The court suggested to the city government to create a permanent regulatory authority, either by amending the Education Act or by enacting a new legislation, to resolve the issue of periodic hikes in tuition fee. It also suggested to the central government to frame a national policy on fees for unaided schools. The bench’s order came on a PIL which had alleged that despite CAG’s indictment of 25 private schools for accounting malpractices including faking losses, the city government has allowed them to hike tuition fee. The notice was issued after Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh filed an application through its counsel Ashok Aggarwal, seeking direction to the government to forthwith issue a notification constituting the Anil Dev Singh Committee. Taking note of the plea, the bench said: ‘Submit a status report regarding constitution of Anil Dev Singh Committee by next date of hearing.’ The government notification, which was issued on Feb 12, 2009, had said that any school, which was charging a monthly fee of Rs 500, will be allowed to hike Rs 100. Likewise, any school charging a monthly fee of Rs 1,000 will be allowed to effect a maximum hike of Rs 200. Schools with a monthly fee of Rs 1,500 were allowed to hike tuition fees by Rs 300 and those having a fee structure ranging from above Rs 1,500 to Rs 2000 were allowed to hike it by a sum not more than Rs 400. The rest of the schools with monthly fees of more than Rs 2,000 were allowed by the notification to hike it by only Rs 500. The Delhi Cabinet had approved the hike ranging from a minimum of Rs 100 to a maximum of Rs 500 in the schools to ease their financial burden due to hike in teachers? salaries as per the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
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