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 By Ustat Kaur [email protected]

The issue of school fee payment has emerged as one of the biggest issues amidst lockdown. Parent Associations have been demanding no school no fees. Despite that, the schools have been imposing fees on parents and now HC has also ruled that schools can charge 70 % of tuition fees. The parents have been alleging that the schools in order to gain more money have doubled the school fees and also added more components in the school fees. The parents were struggling with the issue of tuition fee and they were assured by Chandigarh administration that in case of difficulty, they can approach Fee Regulatory authority and also directed schools to upload balance sheets on websites to ascertain that which school has the capacity to pay to his employees and staff from its profits.

The parents were struggling with fee issues when one more issue has erupted. That is, the schools have now reached HC again following which The Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notice to Chandigarh administration and Union of India on the petition moved by Independent School Association Chandigarh along with two other schools challenging the UT administration order to unaided private schools to upload the balance sheets on their websites or face action. The constitution of Fee Regulatory Authority has also been challenged in the petition.

Independent school Association has moved a petition seeking quashing of order dated May 22 whereby private unaided schools have been directed to upload the income and expenditure account and balance sheets on their websites.

It was argued that in 2016 Punjab government had enacted Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institutions Act which also authorizes to provide for the constitution of regulatory body with a view to providing for a mechanism for regulating fee of unaided educational institutions in State. Like all other acts, this act was also extended to UT Chandigarh. In 2018, a regulatory body was established in Chandigarh as per this act. On May 22, UT administration has started issuing memos and reminders to private unaided schools asking the schools to upload income and expenditure accounts and balance sheets on their respective websites which as per petition are in blatant disregard for schools’ autonomy. The schools have been threatened with an action under provisions of the 2016 Act in case schools failed to comply with the directions.

The petition challenged the validity of the fourth provision to Section 5 and subsections (4) to (6) of section 10 of the 2016 Act as extended to UT Chandigarh. Also, the composition of the Regulatory body constituted under section 3 and also penalities imposed under section 14 of the 2016 act have been challenged.

HC relief to Parents

HC in one of its orders has made it clear that no school can deny education to the children in case parents are not able to pay the fees. It has been directed that parents can approach Fee Regulatory authority which can redress their grievances.

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