The Delhi government Friday told the Delhi High Court that the Justice Anil Dev Singh committee, set up to examine the accounts of private schools allegedly charging high tuition fees, can start working from Monday (Dec 26).
Counsel appearing for the city government told the bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Siddhartha Mridul that since the renovation work is taking time, an immediate arrangement for office space at Vikas Bhawan in Civil Lines has been made for the committee, headed by the retired judge.
Assuring the court of providing a permanent office to the committee within a month, counsel said: "The committee can start working from next week (Monday) from this place. After renovation is complete, office space at Vasant Vihar would be provided to the committee on a permanent basis."
The court then requested the committee to start work at Vikas Bhawan office from Monday, till it gets a permanent office.
Facing a problem in its working, the committee had earlier written to the high court to provide it an office at a suitable place, staff including accountants, computers, website and email.
Earlier, the same bench had given direction for setting up of a committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the hike was required. The bench authorised the committee to scrutinize the accounts of minority schools as well.
"If the committee finds that the hike was not required, the schools are bound to return the money to students with 9 percent interest rate," the bench had said in a 143-page verdict Aug 12.
The committee also comprises J.S. Kochar, a chartered accountant, and an official from the directorate of education, to be nominated by the Delhi government's chief secretary.
The bench had made it clear that the city government's 2009 notification will be treated as an interim measure but it would be subject to the scrutiny.
The court suggested to the city government to create a permanent regulatory authority, either by amending the Education Act or by enacting a new legislation, to resolve the issue of periodic hikes in tuition fee.
It also suggested to the central government to frame a national policy on fees for unaided schools.
The court was hearing a PIL which had alleged that despite CAG's indictment of 25 private schools for accounting malpractices including faking losses, the city government has allowed them to hike tuition fees.
The government notification, which was issued on Feb 12, 2009, had said that any school, which was charging a monthly fee of Rs.500, will be allowed to hike it by Rs.100. Likewise, any school charging a monthly fee of Rs.1,000 will be allowed to effect a maximum hike of Rs.200.
Schools with a monthly fee of Rs.1,500 were allowed to hike tuition fees by Rs.300 and those having a fee structure ranging from above Rs.1,500 to Rs.2,000 were allowed to hike it by a sum not more than Rs.400.
The rest of the schools with monthly fees of more than Rs.2,000 were allowed by the notification to hike it by only Rs.500.
The Delhi cabinet had approved the hike ranging from a minimum of Rs.100 to a maximum of Rs.500 in the schools to ease their financial burden due to hike in teachers' salaries as per the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations.