AP High Court Keeps out GOs Fixing Fees Of Private Unaided Schools

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court today struck down the Government Orders (GOs) 53 and 54 issued in August this year aimed at regulating the fees in private schools and junior colleges.

A single-judge bench of Justice U. Durga Prasad Rao was adjudicating a batch of writ petitions filed by different Private Unaided School Associations, Junior College Management Associations, Junior Colleges and High Schools. Based on recommendations of the A.P. School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission, GO 53 determined the fee structure for Nursery to 10th class in private unaided schools in the State of A.P. for the block periods from 2021 till 2024 and GO 54 determined the fee structure of two years Intermediate course of private unaided junior colleges in the State of A.P. for block periods from 2021 till 2024.

In keeping out the impugned orders, the court observed that State Governments are only accorded the power to regulate the fee structure under Rule 8 of A.P. School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission Rules, 2020. The state is given such powers under the rules to prevent schools from resorting to profiteering and collecting Capitation Fee. Agreeing with the contentions of the petitioner counsels, the court added that apex court judgments only allow the State Governments to undertake the regulation of fee structure and not the fixation of fees itself.

The High Court has directed that the Andhra Pradesh School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission (APSERMC), following clause 8, should issue a fresh notification and elicit information from every private school and junior college in the State.

Senior advocates Vedula Venkataramana, B. Adinarayana Rao and P. Veera Reddy had earlier told the court that better management and teaching of educational institutions was not possible with the fees fixed by the government. Arguments have been heard that parents are satisfied and enrolled their children in private educational institutions. However, the High Court, which has heard the case several times, has recently dismissed the GOs.

A uniform fee cannot be charged for the institutes that were being run with international standards and the institutes with less infrastructural facilities. It was not that easy to maintain the educational institutes. On the other hand, it was necessary to protect the interests of students and parents. At this juncture, while fixing the fee structure, the Commission should take both institutes and parents into consideration.

The AP High Court had heard the case many times in the past sessions before setting aside both these GOs in today’s hearing.