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Calcutta High Court: Schools shouldn’t be allowed to raise fees according to will

June 7, 2023

Mita Mukherjee

Calcutta High Court on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the way a section of private schools increase fees and asked the state government whether it is possible for it to establish more control on unaided schools to monitor their activities on a regular basis.

“Education is not a commodity and cannot be up for sale. One cannot put a price tag on education,” Justice Biswajit Basu said while hearing a petition moved by a student of a private school challenging the decisions of schools to increase fees according to their will.

During the course of the hearing, the judge said it has become a common practice at private schools to increase fees whenever they wanted to and this should not be allowed. “ Schools cannot be allowed to increase fees according to their will. There has to be a control on this,” he said.

Justice Basu asked the state’s advocate general S.N. Mookherjee, if the state had any plans to increase its monitoring on the schools to check sudden fee hikes and present its views on the issue when the matter is scheduled to come up for the next hearing.

 The judge referred to the provisions of an act framed in 2012 that makes it compulsory for unaided schools to seek the state government’s approval before increasing students’ fees.

The state government cannot fix a rigid fee structure for private schools. But the government can have its control on the activities of such institutions.

Guardians of private schools in Kolkata and other parts of the state had complained about steep fee hikes after Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the court had ordered schools to charge only 80 per cent of the school fees and waive the charges under several heads like extracurricular, sports, games and laboratory facilities as the classes were held through online mode.

Later in 2022, the Calcutta High Court withdrew its earlier order on providing the 20 per cent rebate on school fees and allowed the private schools to return to the pre-Covid norms.

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