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School slaps ‘property tax’ on students, parents move court

Parents of children studying in a private school in east Delhi have moved the Delhi High Court challenging the institution’s decision to collect from them Rs.430 per month as “property tax”.

Justice Kailash Gambhir Monday issued notice to St. Lawrence Convent Senior Secondary School, the Delhi government and government auditor seeking their response on the issue by Nov 22.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has been questioned by the court for allegedly failing to audit the accounts of the school, as per its earlier order on scrutiny of finances of private schools.

The petitioners alleged that the school earlier levied on them SMS and maintenance charges.

“The parents have been forced to pay Rs.171 as SMS charges, and Rs.1,050 as maintenance charges which are also not permissible in law,” said the petition.

Petitioners’ advocate Ashok Agarwal said: “The school has arbitrarily, illegally and without any justification not only increased fee and other charges in the academic years, 2010-11 and 2011-12, but also forced hapless parents to pay on account of ‘property tax’ which is not permissible in law.”

“The school has not only illegally increased the fee and other charges but has gone on to levy around Rs.430 per student towards ‘property tax’ in the fee slip for July-September 2011 which is impermissible in law,” he said.

“The school increased the fee in the middle of the session of 2010-11, without taking prior permission from the directorate of education of the Delhi government,” said the petition.

“The school in the academic year 2010-11 increased the tuition fee by 12 percent and in the academic year 2011-12 by another 40 percent without any justification,” he said.

The petition said the court should direct the Delhi government and the CAG to audit the school’s accounts from 2008-09.

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