In a major relief for parents battling fee hike by private minority schools, the Bombay High Court has said provisions of the Maharashtra Educational Institute (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2011 were applicable to all schools and the education department can take action against any institute refusing to abide by it.
The high court made it clear that pendency of various petitions –filed by parents against fee hike and those filed by schools challenging the Act itself – would not come in the way of implementation of the Fee Regulation Act.
“We clarify that since there are no interim orders in any of the petitions, if the authority of the Education Department find that any of the schools are refusing to implement the provisions of the Maharashtra Educational Institute (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2011, the pendency of the petitions would not come in the way of such authority in taking such steps against such schools for not following the provisions of law,” a bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Bharati H Dangre ordered.
The petitions will now come up for hearing on March 20.
The bench is hearing a batch of petitions, some filed by parents, including Prasad Viswanathan, and some by minority schools such as Ryan International School, St Joseph High School and St Xavier’s High School against the applicability of the Act on minority schools.
Viswanathan had moved high court in the year 2015 seeking implementation of the Act after some schools like the Ryan International hiked fee without the approval of the Parents-Teachers’ Association as mandated by the Act.
The parents had asked the school to refund the excess fee so charged but in vain.
During the hearing, parents contended that the Act does not make any difference between minority schools and other schools. They said the schools are citing pendency of the petitions as a ground for not following the provisions of the Act while minority institutions argued that the State cannot dictate terms to a minority institution.
It is to be noted that Section 3 of the Maharashtra Educational Institute (Regulation of Fees) Act makes a collection of excess fee an offence while section 4 provides for every school to constitute a PTA.