Schools in Maharashtra to get Uncontrolled 15% Fee Hike Right?-
We had recently revealed that the government of Maharashtra has ratified the pro school management & anti parent amendments in The Maharashtra Educational Institutions Regulation of Fee Act 2011. However in yet another shocking information, it has been revealed that the schools in State of Maharashtra may get the unchecked right of hiking the school fees without any effective parental or statutory regulatory body’s check, by up to 15% of the previous academic year’s fee owing to tremendous indifference by the previous and present governments of the state. The chances of parents to get the relief from the judiciary without any immediate action, are also extremely weak for willful indifference of the state government.
The state government is duty bound to appoint the (Divisional Fee Regulatory Committee-DFRC) & also the Revisional Fee Regulatory Committee-RFRC) under the various provisions of the The Maharashtra Educational Institutions Regulation of Fee Act 2011. These committees have been empowered to deal with the grievances or the disputes between the parents & the school management over fee & related issues.
Non existence of the DFRC’s & RFRC in State of Maharashtra-
As per the confidential sources, the tenure of the earlier appointed Divisional Fee Regulatory Committees (DFRC) & also the Revisional Fee Regulatory Committee (RFRC) has been over before few months in the state & hence there exists no statutory binding mechanism to deal with the disputes between the parents & the school management over fee issue.
Bombay High Court in 2015- ‘In absence of statutory mechanism, schools allowed to hike the fees by up to 15% of the previous academic year fee if need to’-
As above mentioned, it is the state government to be blamed for all the chaos in the state & shall also be responsible for the probable financial loss of the parents against the exploitation by the school management. The Bombay high court had already in the year 2015 allowed the school managements all over the state to hike the fees by up to 15% of the previous academic year’s fee if needed in the absence of the statutory mechanism to regulate the fees.
In The Association of International Schools in India & Anr Vs State of Maharashtra & Anr (Writ Petition No.3244(L) of 2015) the Bombay High Court allowed the school managements to hike the fees by up to 15% if needed so, in the absence of the statutory mechanism to regulate the fees. It is pertinent to note that many reputed schools deliberately misused the interim order of the Bombay High Court to justify their exorbitant & illegal fee hike thereafter, the state government then as usual remained mere a mute spectator in spite of furore of parents. The parents had only option to move to the high court then, which many of them found difficult to.
The relevant part of the Bombay High Court’s interim order in The Association of International Schools in India & Anr Vs State of Maharashtra & Anr (Writ Petition No.3244(L) of 2015) above mentioned is as follows-
‘The Divisional Fee Regulatory Committee, is also not yet constituted….’
5. It is submitted on behalf of the Petitioners that it is necessary for the schools to declare the fees structure for the academic year 2016-17 in advance so that the parents are aware of the fees that are required to be paid at the time of admission of the students in respective classes.
6.In the circumstances, at this stage, we are inclined to accept the submissions of the learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioners and by way of ad-interim measure we pass the following order:
i) If so required, the management of the schools may propose and collect the fees for the academic year 2016-17 which would be the fee of the previous academic year plus an amount not exceeding 15% thereof.
The ad interim order of the Bombay High Court above mentioned can be downloaded as follows-
The Association of International Schools in India & Anr Vs State of Maharashtra & Anr (Writ Petition No.3244(L) of 2015).Pdf
Options for the Parents All Over the state-
It is to be noted that misusing the government’s indifference, both present and previous, many schools have hiked the fees without any approval from the parent representative committees or any statutory fee regulatory committee.
The parents have already been trapped in ‘Distress Call’ situation as if no immediate action is taken by the government, the schools, as explained earlier may grab the opportunity of hiking the fees without any strong & effective check. In our opinion the parents have very limited options to tackle this chaotic situation as follows-
1) Press for the demand of immediate appointment of the members of Divisional Fee Regulatory Committee (DFRC) & also the Revisional Fee Regulatory Committee (RFRC) either through protest movements or simple applications to the Chief Minister of the State & the Education Minister too.
2) To demand the immediate government resolution for prohibiting the school managements to fix any fees for the upcoming academic year till the DFRCs & RFRC are appointed and become active,
3) To demand for orders for the immediate stay on fees hiked by the school management without approval from the parent committees or regulatory committees like DFRCs & RFRC.
4) To spread the legal aspects above explained & to make aware the masses aware about the unfortunate situation created by the government by conspiring with the school managements, launch public protest against such unjust approach adopted by the state government which aims to help the school managements in commercialization of the education only.