Unfortunately in Kashmir only and nowhere else in the country private schools are misinterpreting a recent judgment of the Supreme Court on fee charging by Private Schools in Rajasthan just to exploit gullible parents enrolled in private schools across Kashmir. While the Supreme Court in it’s judgment has asked private schools of Rajasthan not to charge the fee for the services which they are not providing to the students, the private schools in Kashmir very cleverly tried to create an impression that they are at liberty to recover fee from the students even for the services which they don’t provide during the periods of off campus online teaching process and interestingly services not provided to students during off campus online teaching process obviously include transport services, sports facilities and access to laboratory and library facilities. Interestingly private schools during off campus online teaching process also save money generally spent for sweeping and sanitation in the school buildings. In March this year Kashmir’s private schools had threatened to downgrade transport facilities over their demand for charging transport fee from the students for last year’s lockdown period. Shockingly Kashmir Private schools don’t talk about 15% deduction in school fee as per the said Supreme Court Judgment which if implemented in Jammu & Kashmir would mean 15% deduction in school fee for the lockdown period.
Since all the directions and observations of the Supreme Court go against the profiteering and commercialisation trends and tendencies of the Kashmir private schools , better for Kashmir Private Schools to desist from commercialising education for the purposes of illegal profiteering and misinterpret the Supreme Court judgment related to Rajasthan Private Schools for their ulterior motives.
Yet another fact not made public by Kashmir private schools is that the top court has clearly said ‘classes have been held online during the last academic year, schools must have saved on overheads and operational costs, schools also must have saved atleast 15% in that way and hence they have to give a deduction in annual school fee to that extent’. To ensure strict implementation of the deduction of the annual school fee by 15% the top Court has clearly said that schools “must willingly and proactively” reduce the fee by 15%. So first let the private schools reduce the annual school fee by 15% to show it’s respect to the said Supreme Court judgment after hailing it publicly. What the private schools of Kashmir have not noted seriously is the fact that the precedents laid down in TMA Pai, PA Imamdar and other cases which say ‘fee charged by educational institutions should be commensurate to their services and they can not indulge in “profiteering” or “commercialisation”. Reprimanding the private institutions over any kind of “profiteering” or “commercialisation” the top court has also said that Private institution have the autonomy to fix their own fees but it should not result in “profiteering” and “commercialisation” and the state has the power to impose regulations. So when the top court says that private education institutions have not to indulge in “profiteering” or “commercialisation” and state has the power to impose regulations over private educational institutions, the audit of the income and expenditure parts of the private school budgets by the government’s own audit agency and not private audit agencies is the only way to check “profiteering” and “commercialisation” by private education institutions. Unfortunately the audits of private schools are conducted by private auditing institutions choosen by private school management and not the government. The audit of private school budgets by government has thus become imperative keep in view the fact that the top court in it’s judgment has again said ‘ recovery of excess amount beyond permissible limit would result in “profiteering” and “commercialisation”. While the Supreme Court has delivered the judgment in the case Indian School vs State Of Rajasthan and others, the educational scenario and the system of educational governance is totally different in Kashmir from that of Rajasthan. Significantly the top court has also said that it is for school management to reschedule payment of school fee in such a way that not even a single student is left out or denied opportunity of pursuing his/her education so as to effectuate the adage “ live and let live”. The school managements have also been directed not to withhold the name of any student for ensuing board examinations for classes 10 and 12 on the ground of non payment of fee/arrears for the academic year 2020-21. Since all the directions and observations of the Supreme Court go against the profiteering and commercialisation trends and tendencies of the Kashmir private schools , better for Kashmir Private Schools to desist from commercialising education for the purposes of illegal profiteering and misinterpret the Supreme Court judgment related to Rajasthan Private Schools for their ulterior motives.