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Only school mgmts, not parents, can move fee regulator, rules HC

PUBLISH DATE 19th July 2017

2011 Law Gives Guardians Say In School Panels

Parents disgruntled about school fees cannot approach the divisional fee regulatory committee (DFRC), the Bombay high court ruled on Tuesday . Only school managements can move that forum.

The Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act of 2011 allows DFRC to adjudicate on any dispute between a school's management and parent teacher association (PTA) over fees.

“The DFRC has no jurisdiction to entertain a complaint made by aggrieved parents,'' said a bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Riyaz Chagla, in response to petitions from two school managements objecting to the DFRC taking up complaints from parents.

The order sets to rest a lingering confusion among parents on remedies available to them under the 2011law introduced to regulate school fees.

EuroSchool Education Trust in Pune, which runs Euro school at Wakad, had moved the high court last week after the DFRC issued notices asking its officials to appear before it after complaints by parents against hiked fees. The other petition was by the management of the Indian Education Society , where the parents had objected to a hike of Rs 300 per month.

On June 7, the DFRC pas sed an order against Euro School, directing it to reconstitute its executive committee (see box). The HC set aside the DFRC order against the school. There are over 2,000 students at the school which follows the ICSE board.

The parents had moved DFRC seeking refund of excess fees and withdrawal of the hike for Classes V to VIII from Rs 92,000 to over Rs 99,000 from the academic year 2016-17 to 2017-18.

The school said it had constituted an executive committee, including parents, as mandated by the 2011 law and, through counsel Pravin Samdani and Sahil Kanuga, argued that the DFRC did not have the jurisdiction to entertain complaints from parents. Counsel Arvind Kothari for IES echoed the argument.

Euro School also said it had increased its fees only by 8%, which was “well within a 15% limit set by the high court in an order passed in 2015“. Anubha Sahai, advocate for one of the parents opposing the petition, argued that the Act was bad in law. She said parents have a right to be heard by the committee.