Delhi HC Directs Private Schools To Refund Excess Fee Charged In 14 Days
The Delhi High Court today directed private schools which have failed to refund the excess fee charged by them despite a government order, to deposit 75 per cent of the principal amount within 14 days to avoid any coercive action. A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Najmi Waziri directed these city schools to deposit the amount in the form of "cash, fix deposits receipts or bank guarantees favouring the Registrar General" in the High Court Registry. The court took strong exception that over six years have passed since 2011 and the schools have failed to comply with Justice Anil Dev Singh committee recommendations to refund the excess fees on some pretext or the other.
"We had given you adequate time to schools to put your house in order. Yet, the schools have not complied with our order. They must themselves deposit the amount extracted in excess from students.
"We acknowledge that there may be variations in the amount calculated by the committee. But to say that halt the whole process, is not fair. We can't pass a blanket order that don't recover the money. You deposit the amount and we are inclined to give an expeditious hearing," the bench observed.
The High Court was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by various private schools seeking recall of the Justice Anil Dev Singh committee recommendations to refund excess fees.
They had also challenged a May 29 notice of Directorate of Education (DoE) ordering refund of the excess fees charged by schools, failing which the institutions could face de- recognition or takeover by the department.
The court directed various schools and the DoE to sit together and articulate the broader issues relating to findings of the committee, which the petitioners were challenging in the case.
The direction came after senior advocates Salman Khurshid and Amit Sibal, appearing for some private schools, said there were discrepancies in the findings of the committee and had challenged some of its recommendations including computation of the excess fees.
The bench posted the matter for hearing on September 25. The High Court had earlier said it would seek implementation of the recommendations of a panel set up by it to look into the excess fees charged by private schools here on the pretext of implementing the 6th Pay Commission.
On May 31, the DoE had told the court that private schools which do not refund the excess fees charged by them on the pretext of implementing the 6th PC, will face de- recognition or takeover.
After examining 1092 private schools, the panel had said that 531 among them had charged excess fee and recommended that it should be refunded with nine per cent interest. It had also recommended special inspection of 247 schools.
The high court had set up the panel and issued directions for refund of excess fees in 2011 on a plea by the NGO, Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh.
Thereafter, the NGO had moved the court claiming that over 500 private schools were yet to refund Rs 350 crore of excess fee taken from students on the pretext of implementing the 6th PC. It had also sought initiation of contempt proceedings against all such institutions.
To ensure compliance of the panel's recommendations, the DoE had on May 29 this year issued a notice to several defaulting schools, telling them that failure to refund the excess fees as recommended by the committee could lead to their de-recognition or taking over of their management by the department.
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