Thousands of common man have gathered today at Dilli Vidhan Sabha under the banner of All India Parents Association (AIPA) to register their protest against the proposed (i) amendment in Delhi School Education Act, 1973 deleting Section 10(1) thereof, thereby taking away the right to pay parity of all employees of recognized private schools guaranteed to them by Section 10(1) of the Act and (ii) enactment of Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill, 2015 that instead of controlling arbitrary fee hike by unaided private schools, it gives absolute powers to such schools to loot the hapless parents/students, in whatever way they like.
Pay Parity of teaching and non- teaching staff of recognised private schools:
The proposed Amendments completely takes away the right to pay parity of all the employees of recognised private schools guaranteed to such employees by Section 10(1) of DSE Act, 1973 that mandates that pay and others benefits of the employees of a recognised private school shall not be less than those paid to their counter parts working in Government schools. It is submitted that on the basis of this provision of law, all employees of recognised private schools are legally entitled to claim benefits under Central Pay Commissions revised from time to time. If this proposed amendment is passed, no employee would be entitled to claim benefits of pay and emoluments under 7th Pay Commission that will come into force with effect from 01.01.2016. It is submitted that 42 years old provision that was achieved by the workers after a long struggle has been taken away by the AAP Govt in one stroke through proposed amendment Bill. People of Delhi have voted Kejriwal party for protection of the workers rights and not to snatch them and that too in the manner it is being done. It is submitted that during the regime of BJP and Congress party Governments in the past, even they did not ever thought of or attempted to take away such a valuable right of equal pay and dignified livelihood. Apparently, this has been done at the behest of the private school managements lobby to benefit them. Is Govt not adopting double standards? One for its own employees and other for the employees of the recognised private schools. Have they ever sought views of the people at large and of the employees particularly before proposing such amendment? Is it not cheating on the part of Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. Why Govt throughout concealed it from public? No one knew about it till 21.11.2015 evening when I suddenly heard about it from some source and sent the following message to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal on the night of 15.11.2015 at 21.11 hours:
" Dear Arvind ji, I have heard that AAP Govt is contemplating to delete Section 10 (1) of Delhi School Education Act,1973 that guarantees all employees of recognised private schools to get the benefit of Central Pay Commissions. Please don't do it. If it is done, you will have to face great protest from the people of Delhi. Regards, ashok agarwal"
Next following message to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal was sent on 18.11.2015 at 04.00 hours:
" Kejriwal attacks on workers rights - All the Delhi Teachers must seriously oppose Kejriwal Govt move to drop S.10 of DSEA, 1973 that entitles all employees of private recognised schools to get pay and other benefits at par with their counter parts working in Delhi Govt schools. Dropping of S. 10 would make the employees of Delhi private schools further venerable. Govt move would also adversely affect the standard of education in private schools. Let parents & teachers unite to wage struggle against this exploitative move of AAP led Delhi Govt. Adv Ashok Agarwal M-09811101923"
At 7.25 hrs on 18.11.2015, the following message was sent to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal:
" Dropping of S.10 from DSE Act, 1973 is neither in favour of parents nor in favour of teachers but only serves the greedy school managements."
The following is the next message sent to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal on 19.11.2015 at 1.50 hours:
" Arvind Kejriwal has played a cruel fraud with thousands of innocent teachers and other staff of recognised private schools by snatching from them the right to pay parity with their counter parts working in Delhi Govt schools which is in existence for the last 42 years. "
The last message sent to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal on 19.11.2015 at 2.14 hours is as under:
" AlPA calls upon Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to withdraw anti workers Clause of the Bill deleting Section 10 (1) of DSE Act, 1973."
It is submitted that despite receiving all these messages, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal did not reply at all.
Checking menace of exorbitant fee hike every year by unaided private schools:
As far as the Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill, 2015 is concerned, it fails to cater to the mischief of exorbitant and unjustified fee-hike for the followings amongs other reasons:-
Firstly, it presupposes that fee-hike by the private schools is per-se legal and valid, unless the same is challenged through a complaint and is set aside by the committee. If we look at the existing Acts on private unaided school-fee regulation, particularly the Tamil Nadu (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2009, there is a stipulation of prior approval by the Committee before fee-hike and the said hiked fee, once approved, cannot be further hiked upto three years. While here, this Bill has put the entire burden upon the complainant. It is expected that the Delhi’s Act should be advancement over Tamil Nadu Act and should surpass the benchmark set by Tamil Nadu, but this Bill falls way short of even what Tamil Nadu has already achieved.
Secondly, this Bill suffers from various practical anomalies. The burden has been cast upon the aggrieved parent to move in complaint. This onerous task would make the parent, and ultimately the child, amenable to be subjected to victimization. Further, once a complaint is made, no time-limit has been stipulated for disposal of the same by the committee, making it liable to be reduced to futility by sheer lapse of time. Even after a complaint has been decided, there is enough room for delay as the school can file objections, and even after consideration of the same and final decision by the committee, there is a provision of appeal to the Director, for disposal of which, no time-limit has been stipulated. The school shall thus continue to enjoy its free hand at least throughout the process which has enough scope for inordinate delays. Needless to say that it would not be an easy task for any parent to make complaints because they need a minimum support of parents of 20 students to maintain the same. The committee itself is a rather weak one compared to the Tamil Nadu model where a retired judge of the High Court heads the Committee.
It is needless to mention here that the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in its decision dated 12.08.2011 in Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh & ors. vs. GNCTD & ors. [W.P. (C) No.7777/2009] had constituted Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee to look into the accounts of each school and find out whether the fee-hike by private unaided schools on the pretext of 6th Central Pay Commission was justified. The High Court had further directed that if the fee-hike was found to be unjustified, it would be refunded by the school to parents along with 9% interest. Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee has so far indicted more than 450 schools and the refundable amounts cumulatively come to more than Rs.250 crores. However, till date, not a single school has refunded the due amounts to the parents.
Even in 1997, when the parents had approached High Court against fee-hike on the pretext of implementation of 5th CPC, the High Court vide an interim Order had permitted the schools to increase fee by upto 40%, resulting in recovery of over Rs.400 crores from the parents of Delhi, which was to be subject to the findings of Justice Santosh Duggal Committee and liable to be refunded if found unjustified. However, the working of the Committee was deliberately stifled by the Directorate of Education and the private schools, with the result that till date no amount has been refunded to the hapless parents. Thus, it is our experience that once a school charges fee from the parents, it becomes next to impossible to get it refunded.
In terms of Section 3 of the Bill, the committee can be headed by a bureaucrat which parents strongly feel that the same would be a very weak committee.
The proposed Bill everywhere talks of utilization of funds in accordance with the provision of Delhi School Education Act, 1973. This is not the real issue. The real issue is of charging of exorbitant fee itself. The reference of Delhi School Education Act in the Bill is also irrelevant and misleading as in 1973 when DSEA was enacted, no one visualized the problem of arbitrary fee hike by the private schools.
The proposed Bill also does not talk of ascertaining/determination justifiability of fee charged. It really does not safeguard the interest of the parents at all. If one goes in terms of this Bill, a complaint, if any, by a parents can only be filed after at least 18 months from the date such fee is charged from them. It is interesting to note that the parent can not file a complaint or raise a grievance, the moment, the fee arbitrary increased by a school. He has to wait till the audited accounts are finalised by a school, and he cannot have a complaint beyond the limited issue of utilization of funds. The Bill in other words, allows the greedy private schools to loot the hapless parents in whatever way, they like.
Suppose through proposed fee structure a school has increased tuition fee by 25% for the next year i.e 2016-17 and you are aggrieved of that. Can you maintain a complaint before the committee saying that the fee demanded by me is unjustified and the school should be stopped from charging it? Answer is No.
You have to wait for a more than a year to make a complaint because you have to see if the fee charged from you is utilized or not and if it is utilized, whether utilized in accordance with the DSEA Act. According to the provisions of this Bill, parent cannot make complaint of arbitrary fee hike when it is proposed or charged. They have to wait full year to see that what is charged from them is utilized or not utilized and if utilized, whether utilized is violation of DSEA Act and Rules and in case, it is not utilized, whether it would amount to excess fee charge and become refundable.
Why committee needs a complaint from the parents? The committee is expected to act as a complaint itself and ensure that fee proposed or charged must be justified. The present Bill does not give such teeth to the committee and the entire Bill is no less a paper tiger.
In nutshell, the proposed Bill is totally bogus one and does not at all address the issue of arbitrary, exorbitant and unjustified fee hike.
AAP Government is just making fool of common man. Hence the present protest.
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
National President, AIPA