Tribune press service
Chandigarh, May 28
The High Court of Punjab and Haryana ruled that uploading a financial statement by private schools on their websites would ensure transparency and help achieve the goal of preventing profiteering and charging of capitation fees .
“Each institute has the freedom to set its own fee structure taking into account facilities and infrastructure. Institutes are also allowed to generate surplus funds, which they can use for the improvement and growth of educational institutions. However, at the same time, institutions cannot be allowed to engage in profiteering or charge capitation fees,” the High Court said.
The decision came as a division bench of the High Court dismissed a group of petitions brought by the Independent Schools Association of Chandigarh, the Kabir Education Society and other petitioners against the Union of India and other defendants.
Bench Jaswant Singh and Justice Sant Parkash observed that the petitioners were aggrieved by a certain provision of the Punjab Unaided Educational Institutions Fees Regulation Act 2016 as extended to Chandigarh.
Their claim was that uploading income and expenditure accounts and balance sheets to the website had no justification. It was not incidental to the objectives to be achieved by the main legislative text. Schools were already submitting financial information to the relevant authorities. As such, uploading financial information to their websites was unnecessary as it would only make private institutions vulnerable to rampant dissection of accounts by the public.
The bench claimed that the Chandigarh Extended Act 2016 was enacted by Punjab to provide for the constitution of a regulatory body to provide a mechanism for regulating the fees of unaided educational institutions in addition to related matters and incidental matters. Article 18 stipulated that each non-assisted educational institution should keep appropriate accounts of costs and charges. He must also prepare an annual statement of accounts which had to be audited by a qualified public accountant.
After hearing UT lead and permanent lead counsel Pankaj Jain and the claims of his rivals, the bench added that it was established there could be no fixing of a structure rigid fees. “Each institute has the freedom to set its own fee structure while considering the facilities and infrastructure of the institute. In addition, institutes are also allowed to generate surplus funds which they can use for the improvement and growth of educational institutions. But at the same time, institutions cannot be allowed to indulge in profiteering or charge capitation fees.”