SRINAGAR: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Tuesday suspended an order by the Private Schools Fees Setting and Regulation Committee, J&K, Srinagar (FFRC) under which it had barred all principals from private schools to charge and collect annual fees for the period of November 2022 to March 2023, Live Law reported.
“The contested order dated November 2, 2022 will remain in abeyance until a further decision is made by the Private Schools Fee Setting and Regulation Committee (FFRC) after hearing from the requesting schools,” said the court according to report.
The instructions were adopted by a divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Vinod Chatterji while hearing a plea from Tyndale Biscoe School and other private schools challenging the FFRC order. on the grounds that it is not only wrong in law, but the same is also contrary. to the mandate of Section 20E of the J&K School Education Act, 2002, Circular issued by the Government in the Department of School Education on May 14, 2020 as well as the Order issued by the FFRC on January 28, 2019 itself.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Sunil Sethi, argued that the private schools were authorized to charge annual fees which include the annual amortization of the investment made for the establishment of the school concerned, as well as the costs of repair and maintenance and all other one-time costs such as examination. fees, computer fees, sports fees, etc., if applicable.
He argued that the mere change of the academic session by the government does not in any way preclude the applicants from charging the annual fee.
Sethi further argued that the FFRC was informed that due to government orders implementing a uniform academic calendar, the current session would be seventeen months, but the petitioners would only charge students an annual fee for five months, viz. From November 2022 to March 2023 on a monthly basis and prorated according to the fee structure of the applicant schools already approved by none other than the FFRC itself.
He also argued that the impugned order was made without hearing from the applicant schools.
The court, after reading the documents on file and hearing from counsel, noted that the order had been issued by the FFRC without giving the requesting schools an adequate opportunity for a hearing.
The court adopted the directions after enlisting the assistance of the General Counsel, D.C. Raina, who argued that in the event the court comes to the conclusion that no hearing was given to the applicant schools prior to the issuance of the order, “the proper course for the Court would be to refer the matter back to the FFRC for a new decision after hearing all parties involved.
The bench ordered the private schools to approach the FFRC by Thursday (November 17) and provide any additional documents that may be available to them, if necessary, in support of their application.
The Bench further ordered the FFRC to hear the Applicant Schools on Friday (November 18) and pass a new Order accordingly, which will govern the Applicant Schools’ claim as to whether the private management. schools for the period from November to March.
Having a plea, the bench ordered the FFRC to hear from the petitioning schools on Friday and pass a new order accordingly, Live Law reported.