Issue of Sept, Oct fee a closed chapter: HC tells private schools

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday made it clear to private schools that the issue about fee for September and October 2014 was a closed chapter.
It also directed commissioner secretary (school education) to appear in person on July 20 to explain why he should not be punished for failing to revive the panel that would fee structure for schools.
“There is no question of reopening the issue with regard to the payment of fee for the month of September and October,” a division bench of chief justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and justice Ali Mohammad Magrey told advocate Rifat Ara, representing unaided private schools’ union.
The fee for the September and October was to be collected by the schools managements only after getting clearance by a committee headed by a retired judge of this court, the bench said.
“The committee was ordered to be constituted within one week (from June 1), which the government has failed but it does not mean you will do whatever you want,” the division bench said, rejecting Ara’s contention that a circular issued recently by the school education department was contradictory to the directions passed by the court while disposing of a PIL filed by Parents Association.
As per a circular issued by the commissioner secretary, all recognized private schools of Kashmir division have been directed not to charge tuition fee and bus fare from the students for September and October last year.
The schools that collected the fees for the two months shall have to be adjusted for the November and December last year or in the current session.
The schools have also been directed not to hike fee till it was fixed by the committee and collect the same as per August 2014. For any violation in compliance of the circular, the government has warned to de-recognize the institutions.
Meanwhile in another direction, the division bench rejected an application filed by Shaleen Kabra, commissioner secretary to state’s education department, seeking extension in time for reviving the fee fixation panel in the state.
“What steps have been taken by the state government for complying with the directions has not been stated (in the application),” the bench said and rejected plea for the extension of time.
On June 1, the division bench had directed the government to nominate a former judge of the J&K high court as chairman of the aborted committee set up in 2013 to fix fee structure of private schools in the state.
The committee couldn’t take off because on 11 October 2013, the high court, hearing a petition by unaided private schools, stayed the government order, which had announced its constitution with justice (retired) Bilal Nazki as its chairman.
Subsequently, justice Nazki moved to Bihar to head its State Human Rights Commission in March last year and the panel remained in limbo before the court dismissed a petition filed by Unaided Private Schools’ Coordination Committee, which had challenged the formation of the fee-fixing panel.
The court also directed president of Unaided Private Schools Coordination Committee GN War to file statement of facts on the petition, seeking contempt of court proceedings against him, by July 20.
The court also asked War, who was represented by advocate Nasir Qadri, not to go public by misinterpreting its orders.