January 06, 2011

Principals may face jail for fee hikes

MUMBAI: Schools hiking fees unreasonably could face stringent punishment. Apart from de-recognition, representatives on its management committee could face imprisonment and a fine. The state school education department is finalizing a draft of the proposed legislation meant to regulate fee hikes.

The government is keen to introduce the legislation after complaints against schools regarding exorbitant fee hikes. The state government had introduced a government resolution (GR) in July 15 last year. Last September, it was set aside by the Bombay high court, saying schools could decide fees.

Contending that the court ruling against it was on technical grounds, the government decided to introduce legislation to regulate fee hikes. An expert panel was set up to study the regulatory mechanism in place in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. The panel studied court judgments and rulings in relation to the case.

On the basis of its inputs, the department formulated a draft for the proposed legislation. Even as it is being given final touches, senior department officials shared light on the draft`s basic structure.

Similar to the Tamil Nadu model, the state plans committees headed by retired judges to regulate hikes. While managements can fix school fees, a hike will have to be ratified by the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA). If the latter finds it unreasonable, it could approach a committee, which will be divisional or district-level. The committee, comprising a retired judge, an official from the school board, and another person, will decide on the reasonability of the hike.

Faujiya Khan, minister of state for school education, said the draft was yet to be finalized.


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