The Gujarat government today issued rules for the Act regulating the fees charged by private schools in the state through Fee Regulatory Committees. "The Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017," came into force this month after Gujarat Governor O P Kohli gave his assent to the said Bill on April 12. The Bill was introduced by the BJP government in the recently concluded Budget Session with an aim to control the "exorbitant fees" charged by the private schools "in absence of a clear law" regarding it.
As per the rules issued today by the state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, all the private schools, who want to charge fees more than what has been prescribed in the Act, need to submit their proposal with the Fee Regulatory Committee before imposing any hike.
The Act provides for the establishment of four such committees in four zones, having their headquarters at Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot.
The fee structure prescribed in the Act for primary, secondary and higher secondary school is Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 27,000 per year, respectively.
As per the rules, schools need to attach audited accounts of last two years with the proposal form. If schools do not approach the committee to seek approval, the committee will take up the matter suo motu, said a government release.
Upon receiving the proposal, the committee would then listen to the school management and take their statement justifying the increase beyond the cap suggested in the Act.
The committee would take a decision within 90-days from receiving the proposal, said the release.
As per the rules, the committee would take into account various parameters before granting or rejecting permission to hike the fees.
Schools which are already taking less than the prescribed fee limit need not approach the committee. However, if such schools significantly increase their fees, they will be liable for scrutiny by the committee.
Each of these Fee Regulatory Committees will be headed by a chairman, who can be either a retired district and sessions judge or a retired IPS or IAS officer.
Other members to be nominated by the government include a chartered accountant, a civil engineer or an approved government valuer, one academician and a district education officer.
The Fee Regulatory Committee will have jurisdiction over all the private schools, from pre-primary to higher secondary, affiliated to Gujarat Board, CBSE or international boards.
The committee will also have the powers to initiate inquiry suo moto against any school found to be charging excess fees and pass an order to refund double the amount of excess fee to the parents, said the release.
If the school fails to refund the amount in 15 days of getting that order, government would charge a hefty interest of one percent for each day, said the release.
The committee is also empowered to impose up to Rs 5 lakh fine for first offence, Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh fine for the second offence and cancellation of registration or affiliation of the school for the third offence, it said.
Now, schools need to maintain accounting records for their income and expenditure, such as records related to fees, grant, staff salary, stationary and computers.
As per the rules, all the schools have to open a special bank account for the purpose of collecting fees from parents. Schools are required to make expenditure using this account only, said the release.
The Act also provides for Fee Revision Committee, to be chaired by a retired judge of the High Court. Schools can approach this committee for revision if they are not happy with the order issued by Fee Regulatory Committees.
As per the Act, orders passed by the Fee Revision Committee shall be final, the release added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)