No arbitrary fee hike in private schools: HC

Cuttack: The Odisha High Court on Tuesday made made it clear that private schools, including English medium ones, could not arbitrarily hike school fees without a nod from the state government.

"Private schools, including English medium schools in the state come under the provisions of Odisha Education Act and must abide by the provisions of Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009. Hence, they cannot arbitrarily hike the school fees without getting a nod from the state government," a single-judge bench of Justice Kumari Sanju Panda ruled.

"If the school authorities wish to enhance the fees, they can do so after getting concurrence from the state government," it ruled while disposing of a batch of writ petitions pertaining to fee hike in the Stewart Schools here.

Rejecting the contention of the school authorities, the high court stated that both the Stewart Schools running in the city shall continue with their old fee structures.

On the need to hike the fees, the HC directed that the private schools wishing to make any change in their fee structure, shall apply to a committee formed by the state government headed by the director of school and mass education.

The Stewart School authorities last year had hiked fees by nearly 120 per cent over the previous year`s fee structure without taking the parents into confidence. This was challenged in the HC after the parents resorted to a dharna in front of the school for several days.

The high court in June last year had directed the state government to form a high-level committee comprising at least seven members to look into the requests of the private schools to hike fees.

The committee was to take a decision on the matter within 90 days after holding discussions with guardians, school authorities and making a proper assessment of facilities available in the concerned school.