Sessions court dismisses appeal of private school, seeking to set aside order which stayed the annual increase of fee hike

Jagpreet Singh Sandhu
Mount Carmel school loses recognition for failing to upload fee hike details

The Mount Carmel School however filed an appeal against the order of the ACJM Court, at the ADJ Court of Gagan Geet Kaur. (File)

The Additional District and Sessions Court of Chandigarh has dismissed the appeal of Mount Carmel School, seeking to set aside the order of the lower court which stayed fee hike of not more than 8 percent in the session 2017-18, till the matter is under trial.

As per the civil suit, filed in March 2017, around 350 parents of the students of Mount Carmel School moved the lower court, alleging that the hike in monthly tuition fee, which was increased to more than 8 percent annually has almost been doubled, and prima-facie amounts to profiteering by the school in the name of running an educational institution which is prima facie illegal, besides being ultra vires to the and Regulations framed by the Affiliating Board CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education).

The petitioner parents association stated that the Government of Punjab had issued a notification in December 2016 by way of which the schools in the State of Punjab cannot increase the monthly tuition fee more than 8 per cent in one year and even for the same it has to give concrete and plausible reasons, and the same rules have also been deliberated upon by the Chandigarh Administration and a policy for Chandigarh has also been formulated on the same pattern and sent for necessary approvals before notifying the same.

The Civil Judge (Senior Division), Akshdeep Mahajan thus, in April 2017, had held that the fee hike/revision effected by Mount Carmel School for the academic year 2017-18 is in violation of the mandatory requirement of Affiliation bylaws of CBSE Board in as much as the same has been effected without consultation with the Parents Association represented by the parents and amount to profiteering, which is impermissible.

The Mount Carmel School however filed an appeal against the order of the ACJM Court, at the ADJ Court of Gagan Geet Kaur.

Mount Carmel in its appeal at the Sessions Court had submitted that the order passed by the CJM Court has reversed the fee structure of Current Academic year by implementing the fee structure of previous Academic year which is 2016-17.

The order lacks clarity as far as the apply capability of Punjab Act or the Circulars of CBSE concerned, in the background of stand of Union Territory that process of finalising the subject regular is under process.

It was also argued that court has completely ignored the important fact that the hike which has taken place is brought to the notice of the parties well in advance and this is minimum hike which is inevitable in order to meet the necessary expenses to maintain the high stands of education and the facilities being provided o the school children. The trial court has passed the restrained order without noticing the violation of any of the rules.

The Court of ADJ Gagan Geet Kaur, after hearing the arguments held that, “The appellants (Mount Carmel School) cannot force the plaintiff (parents) to choose the forum of their choice if there is no bar of Civil Court jurisdiction. Further, the trial court has already given liberty to appellants to formulate policy with the consultation of parents as per bylaws. Second contention is that only 8 per cent fee hike compare to last session of 2016-17 was made for academic session 2017-18. Thus, admittedly, there is fee hike for the session 2017- 18, then it would be matter of evidence during trial as to whether fee hike is as per Rules or not.”

The order further read, “Third contention that arrears to the tune of Rs.9,91,538/- are due to be paid and directions be given to respondents (parents) to pay the same within a month is beyond the pleas/ ground taken in appeal and such prayer has been made in written arguments.”