New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the administration of Jammu and Kashmir and the Committee formed for fixation and regulation of fee of private schools known as Fee and Fund Regulatory Committee (FFRC) while hearing a writ petition filed by a federation of private schools namely National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA).
A two-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao and also comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose issued notice to the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Committee formed for fixation and regulation of fee of private schools known as FFRC, news agency ANI reported.
NISA had filed the petition before the Supreme Court challenging the notice issued on January 19, 2021, by said Committee to 442 private schools operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
The petition, filed before the apex court by their (Petitioner, NISA) National President, Kulbhushan Sharma, through their lawyer, Ravi Prakash Gupta, alleged that as per the decision of eleven judges bench judgment of Supreme Court in TMA Pai Foundation case, the committee has no power to determine the school fees in private unaided schools not taking any aid from the government.
The report added that the apex court led bench of Justice Rao issued the notice on the prayer challenging the notice of January 19, 2021, issued by Fee Regulatory Committee to about 442 private schools directing them to file past two years account records for the purpose of fixation of school fees in their schools.
During the course of the hearing, Kapil Sibal, senior advocate for the petitioner- NISA, alleged that after eleven judges’ bench judgment of the Supreme Court, the Committee has no such power to fix the fees in private schools.
“It is the prerogative of private schools receiving no aid from the government to initially determine the fees which could be regulated subsequently if the Committee finds the schools are indulging in profiteering or commercialisation. In the present case, without there being any complaint against any school indulging in profiteering or commercialisation, the committee has set down itself as a supervisory body overall private schools dictating terms for fixation of school fees which is the prerogative of schools,” Sibal argued before the Supreme Court.
It was contended by counsel for the petitioner, Ravi Prakash Gupta that when the right of children to free and compulsory Education Act, 2009 was passed by Parliament in the year 2009, wherein under 25 per cent seats were reserved in private schools for economically and socially backward classes, it was presumed that there would still be 75 per cent paid seats with the management to compensate for any loss.
It was argued by Gupta that after RTE Act, 2009, when a child has the option to get entirely free education in government or government-aided school, but still he is opting to seek education in private schools, then he cannot complain against fees fixed by the school, as shown in the school website. The student or his parent enters into the privity of contract with the school management by filling the admission forms accepting thereby the schedule of school fees shown in the school website, said the report.
Gupta further alleged that “there are certain NGOs which had earlier ruined education in government schools and thereafter in government schools are now bent upon to ruin the quality education in private unaided schools.”
The Supreme Court, while issuing notice to Fee Regulatory Committee, tagged this writ petition with other similar matters from Gujarat.