Pvt school moves HC against state's power to decide on fees

HT Correspondent

Mumbai, Nov. 9 -- A private unaided minority school has approached the Bombay high court, challenging provisions of the Maharashtra Education Institutes (Prevention of Capitation Fees) Act 1987. The Act empowers the state government to decide on the fee structure for private unaided schools.

A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Niteen Jamdar has directed the state government and the department of school education to file a reply by November 27 and posted the matter for further hearing on December 4.

The Goregaon-based school, Vibgyor High, has challenged the constitutional validity of sections 2 and 4 of the Maharashtra Education Institutes (Prevention of Capitation Fees) Act, 1987, contending that the provisions violate articles of the Constitution of India, and are contrary to the declaration of law by the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

In 2002, the apex court had held that private unaided minority schools have the fundamental right to establish, run and administer a school, and devise their own fee structures. "Fees to be charged by private unaided institutions cannot be regulated, but no institution should charge capitation fee," the Constitution bench pronounced in the landmark verdict.

Vibgyor High, which offers IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) affiliated to Cambridge University and ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) curriculums, has contended that the two provisions seek to take away the autonomy and fundamental rights conferred by SC upon private unaided minority schools.

"The impugned provisions confer upon state government the power to prescribe an approved fee structure for private schools," the petition filed by Vibgyor High states.

Though the state government has never used the provisions in case of any private unaided school, the deputy director of education had in July 2009 disallowed expenditure incurred by the school toward annual building rent and had directed the school to reduce the fees charged by it proportionately and refund the excess amount to parents. The directive was issued following complaints received from some of the parents.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.