Published: 11th July 2020
Welcome to Reason: Should private and unaided schools be beyond fee control?
The Maharashtra government is not empowered to issue an order interfering with the fee structure of private unaided schools or schools of other boards, the Bombay High Court said
Until we get equality in education we won’t have an equal society
Sonia Sotomayor (b 1954), American lawyer and jurist who was
appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
The hope of securing an equal society via equality in education in India seems a chimera now with the Bombay High Court ruling that the Maharashtra government can’t regulate the fee of private, unaided schools. But first, the facts as reported by the media (30/6/20) and excerpted below:
The Maharashtra government is not empowered to issue an order interfering with the fee structure of private unaided schools or schools of other boards, the Bombay High Court said, while granting an interim stay on a government resolution prohibiting fee hikes this year. The government resolution dated May 8, 2020, directed all educational institutions in the state not to hike their fees for the academic year 2020-21 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A division bench order passed on June 26 said that it was of the prima facie view that the GR was without jurisdiction. The court, however, noted that it was mindful of the difficulties faced by parents in these testing times.
“Therefore, we feel that the management of the private unaided schools may consider providing the option to students/parents to pay the fee in such installments as is considered reasonable and also allow them the option to pay the fee online,” the court said. The court said that Section 5 of the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act empowers the government to regulate fees.
Section 6 of the Act makes it clear that the management of private unaided schools and permanently unaided schools shall be competent to propose the fee in their schools, the court said, adding that prima facie it was of the view that the state government could not have issued the impugned resolution.
“We have also carefully perused the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, but we do not find any such enabling provision empowering the state government to issue a resolution like the impugned one, the court said. The court granted an interim stay on the implementation of the resolution on August 11.
Without going into the contentions of the two parties to the litigation, we can speculate that seats in the elite schools will go to applicants who bid for them like in a public auction and allotted in descending order of bids. Since elite schools would have notional ranking, parents may have to apply in a number of elite schools. Again, there will be another element of inequality among elite parents.