The state government today defended before the Gujarat High Court an act regulating fees of self-financed schools saying it a “valid piece of legislation” to prevent “commercialisation of education”.
The government said this in an affidavit filed before a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi.
The bench was hearing a set of petitions filed by schools — including CBSE affiliated and minority schools — opposing the Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017.
“The act is a valid piece of regulation and the rules are not in any manner arbitrary, unguided, unconstitutional and interfering in the administration of the SFIs,” the government said in its affidavit.
“The objective of the act is to see that no capitation fee is charged and also the fee fixed and collected in the SFIs is not exorbitant and is not amounting to profiteering and commercialisation of education,” it said.
The act is only a regulatory measure and does not take away the powers of the education institutions to fix their own fee, the government said, while also defending its regulatory powers over CBSE affiliated schools saying even CBSE is of the view that many schools are profiteering in the guise of imparting education, and CBSE bye-laws requiring schools to submit fee proposals are “in tandem with the Act”.
It called “figment of imagination” submissions made by petitioner schools that section 13 providing for maintenance of accounts by schools as unreasonable interference with day to day administration of the school.
The government said out of 15,927 schools to be regulated under the act, 11,174 charge lower fees than what has been determined by the government, 841 have sought for determination of fees by the committee, 2,363 have not filed any affidavit nor submitted any proposal before the committee, while 2,385 have challenged it before the high court.
The court had extended May 25 deadline of the government for schools to submit affidavit before the committee to those who challenged the Act before the court, till June 15.
The petitioners have challenged the Act saying that CBSE and state government may differently assess their proposals regarding determination of fees, and therefore, it may be conflicting.
The group of minority schools affiliated to CBSE also argued against the act, submitting that they are protected under Article 30 of the Constitution which determines rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, and the Act should not apply to them.
As per the rules, all private schools that charge fees more than what it has been prescribed in the Act, need to submit their proposal with the Fee Regulatory Committee, the deadline for this year being May 25.
The Act provides for setting up of four such committees in four zones, having their headquarters at Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot.
The annual fee structure prescribed in the act for primary, secondary and higher secondary schools are Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 27,000, respectively.
( Source – PTI )