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Delhi Govt, Students Move High Court Challenging Order Allowing Private Unaided Schools To Collect Annual Fees, Development Fees During Lockdown

Nupur Thapliyal
6 Jun 2021 4:06 AM GMT
Delhi Govt, Students Move High Court Challenging Order Allowing Private Unaided Schools To Collect Annual Fees, Development Fees During Lockdown
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Appeals have been filed in the Delhi High Court by the Delhi Government and Students challenging the decision of the single judge bench quashing two orders issued by the Delhi Government dated 18th April and 28th August 2020 restraining private schools from collecting Annual Charges and Development Fees from students amid covid 19 lockdown.The pleas were listed on Friday before the bench...

Appeals have been filed in the Delhi High Court by the Delhi Government and Students challenging the decision of the single judge bench quashing two orders issued by the Delhi Government dated 18th April and 28th August 2020 restraining private schools from collecting Annual Charges and Development Fees from students amid covid 19 lockdown.

The pleas were listed on Friday before the bench headed by the Chief Justice DN Patel of the High Court. However, due to the availability of the bench, the matters were transferred to the division bench comprising of Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla.

During the course of hearing, the appellants had requested the Bench to pass an interim order for maintaining status quo.

While declining to pass any such orders, the Court listed the petitions for further consideration on June 7.

"Present appeals have been received by way of transfer from DB-I. Since this Court has had no time to peruse the impugned judgment, list the present matters before the Vacation Bench on 07th June, 2021." The Court said.

The clutch of pleas were filed assailing the order passed by the single judge bench comprising of Justice Jayant Nath wherein the bench had held thus:

"The impugned acts are prejudicial to the said Schools and would cause an unreasonable restriction in their functioning. In the above facts and circumstances, clearly the impugned orders dated 18.04.2020 and 28.08.2020 issued by the respondent to the extent that they forbid the petitioner/postpone collection of Annual Charges and Development Fees are illegal and ultra vires the powers of the respondent stipulated under the DSE Act and the Rules. The orders to that extent are quashed."

The Court observed that the department of education has the power to fix and collect fees by such unaided educational institutions only for the purpose to prevent commercialization of education by them.Observing that there was no finding recorded by the impugned orders that the collection of Annual Charges and Development Fees tantamounts to profiteering or collection of capitation fees by private unaided recognized schools, the Court held thus:

"A perusal of the impugned orders does not show that the entire body of private unaided recognized schools has indulged in profiteering or charging of capitation fees by seeking to collect Annual Charges and Development Fees in the stated facts and circumstances. As noted, the private recognized unaided schools are clearly dependent only on the fees collected to cover their salary, establishment and all other expenditure on the schools. Any regulations or order which seek to restrict or in-definitely postpone their powers to collect normal and usual fees as is sought to be done by the impugned orders is bound to create grave financial prejudice and harm to the schools."

Furthermore, the Court held:

"The respondent in the facts and circumstances has no power to indefinitely postpone the collection of Annual Charges and Development fees, as is sought to be done. The impugned acts are prejudicial to the said Schools and would cause an unreasonable restriction in their functioning. In the above facts and circumstances, clearly the impugned orders dated 18.04.2020 and 28.08.2020 issued by the respondent to the extent that they forbid the petitioner/postpone collection of Annual Charges and Development Fees are illegal and ultra vires the powers of the respondent stipulated under the DSE Act and the Rules. The orders to that extent are quashed."

While disposing of the petition the Court held that:

"The above directions given in paras (i) to (vii) will apply to the petitioner schools mutatis mutandis. However, clause (ii) has to be modified. The amount payable by concerned students will be paid in six monthly installments w.e.f. 10.06.2021."

Title:  Directorate of Education v. Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools

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