Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SC upholds TN Act on school fee regulation

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Supreme Court upholds Act on school fee regulation

J. Venkatesan

Schools can approach panel for fee revision: Solicitor General

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed at the admission stage a batch of appeals challenging a Madras High Court verdict upholding the validity of the Tamil Nadu Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act 2009.

The law enabled the committee headed by a retired High Court judge to fix fees for each school based on information obtained from the school on certain parameters.

A Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice H.L. Dattu after hearing senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi for the school management associations, and Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, State Additional Advocate General P. Wilson and counsel S., Thananjayan for the State, declined to interfere with the impugned judgment and dismissed all the special leave petitions.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that the right to fix fees on their own by unaided private school managements had been taken away by the impugned legislation. Instead of managements fixing the fees, the onus of fixing them was on the committee, which was unconstitutional and violative of the rights to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

The law directly eroded the autonomy of the unaided schools, they said and sought quashing of the law and stay of its operation.

The Solicitor General submitted that the law in no way infringed on the autonomy of the schools. A questionnaire was given to each school to forward its fee structure with details and the committee fixed the fee. The object of the law was to ensure that there was no profiteering or collection of capitation fee.

Mr. Subramaniam pointed out that out of 10,934 schools, a total of 10,233 schools submitted proposals to the committee, which fixed the same amount of fees for 5,628 schools as per their request.

It was always open to the schools to approach the committee for revision of fees based on various parameters. He said that any bona fide desire for revision would not be discarded by the committee. He said the appeals should be dismissed and the High Court judgment should not be interfered with.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

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Private school managements to appeal against fee committee recommendations

Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: Private school managements here have expressed their displeasure at the recommendations of the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee.

The committee recently came out with its report, fixing fee for 10,934 private and self-financing schools in the State after conducting a detailed study on various issues.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity many management representatives say the committee has not taken into consideration their suggestions and made its recommendations based on last year's fee.

The committee has omitted the fees collected for books, notebooks, insurance cover, exam stationery and towards parent-teacher association. It has also ignored the five per cent annual escalation in cost, says the head of an institution. Institutions that have invested crores of rupees in land and building will find it difficult to run the show and will be forced to collect fee illegally or close down the institution, as there is no other option, he adds.

R. Visalakshmi, president, Federation of Association of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu, laments that managements will find it difficult to run the school, leave alone carrying out development works. "The committee's recommendations make it difficult for managements to pay teachers. Without good pay it is difficult to attract talent and the casualty will be the quality of teachers."

Referring to the fee fixed for a school, she says the Committee has recommended Rs. 3,000 for a year for Standard V as against the management's suggestion of Rs. 9,000. At one-third of the fee, it is impossible for the school management to run the institution.

Matriculation schools will be forced to cut down expenditure on co-curricular and extracurricular activities, which distinguish them from others. The opposition is, however, not against regulation. "The State Government is welcome to regulate schools. But punishing all schools just because a few institutions collect exorbitant fee is unjustified," she contends. The Federation is expected to meet soon to chart the further course of action. It also includes appealing to the Justice Govindarajan-led Private Schools Fee Determination Committee to review the recommendation, she adds. In a related development, the Education Department officials here handed over letters containing fee details to almost all the 298 private and self-financing schools in the district.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

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