Delhi High Court (G.S.Sistani J) on Wednesday directed Director of Education to pass a speaking order within 4 weeks in terms of court’s order dated 11.02.2010 which required DOE to properly re-examine whether the unaided schools are bound by Rule 166 of DSER, 1973 which does not permit a school to charge late fee deposit fine more than paise 5 per day. The Court also imposed a cost of Rs.10, 000/- on the DOE for passing an order which is not a speaking order. The Court pulled up the DOE holding that the DOE order of 23.04.2010 is contemptuous in nature and suffered from non-application of mind.
The issue of excess late fee fine had arisen when a parent of two wards studying in Ramjas School filed a petition through Advocate Ashok Agarwal in the Delhi High Court way back in September 2009 questioning charging of fine at the rate of Rs.10/- per day for the late payment of fees by the School whereas Rule 166 of Delhi School Education Rules, 1973 prescribes that the fine for late payment of fees shall be 5 paisa per day. The petition drew attention of the High Court that almost all the public schools in Delhi are charging from the parents fine at the rates ranging from Rs. 10/- to Rs.200/- per day for the late payment of fees in utter violation of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Rules made thereunder. The petitioner parent had claimed refund of Rs.557.20p saying that the action of the school in charging Rs.560/- from him during the year 2008-09 as late fee fine at the rate of Rs.10/- per day is illegal and the school as per the provisions of Delhi School Education Rules, 1973, could have charged only Rs.2.80p.
The Director of Education had informed the Court on 11.02.2010 that they have advised the School Authority to charge the late fee as per rule 166 of DSER 1973 in which provision is given to charge the late fee @ 5 paise per day if necessary. The Court then passed order directing the DOE to pass necessary order after hearing the parties. On 23.04.2010, the DOE filed an affidavit in the Court stating, “It is humbly submitted that Rule 166 of Delhi School Education Act & Rules 1973 is applicable to recognized unaided schools, thus, the unaided institution namely Ramjas Public School is bound by rule 166 of Delhi School Education Act & Rules 1973”. Thereafter, the school filed petition challenging decision of the DOE.
“Charging late fee fine of more than paise 5 per day by the schools is not only in violation of Rule 166 of Delhi School Education Rules, 1973 but also tantamount to exploitation of parents and commercialization of education which is impermissible in law”, submitted lawyer Ashok Agarwal.