New Delhi: The Delhi
government Friday told the Delhi High Court that the Justice Anil
Dev Singh committee, set up to examine the accounts of private
schools allegedly charging high tuition fees, can start working
from Monday (Dec 26).
Counsel appearing for the city government told the bench of Acting
Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Siddhartha Mridul that since
the renovation work is taking time, an immediate arrangement for
office space at Vikas Bhawan in Civil Lines has been made for the
committee, headed by the retired judge.
Assuring the court of providing a permanent office to the
committee within a month, counsel said: "The committee can start
working from next week (Monday) from this place. After renovation
is complete, office space at Vasant Vihar would be provided to the
committee on a permanent basis."
The court then requested the committee to start work at Vikas
Bhawan office from Monday, till it gets a permanent office.
Facing a problem in its working, the committee had earlier written
to the high court to provide it an office at a suitable place,
staff including accountants, computers, website and email.
Earlier, the same bench had given direction for setting up of a
committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to
ascertain if the hike was required. The bench authorised the
committee to scrutinize 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 Aug 12.
The committee also comprises 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 had 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 court was hearing 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 fees.
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 it by 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.2,000 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's recommendations.