The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with the directions given by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court that pending disposal of the objections by the fee fixation committee, schools will not be entitled to collect any further fees than what was collected at the beginning of the academic year in June this year i.e., at the rate fixed for 2009-2010.
A Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan dismissed a batch of special leave petitions filed by the Federation of Private Schools in Tamil Nadu and others against the interim order of the High Court dated October 5.
The Bench, after hearing senior counsel P.P. Rao, V. Giri and R. Muthukumaraswami for the appellants and Additional Advocate General P. Wilson for the State, however, requested the committee to expedite the hearing and finalise it as early as possible. It also said that the main writ petition be disposed of by a Division Bench of the High Court on or before April 30, 2011.
The High Court said the committee would consider the objections of the 6,400 institutions by affording an opportunity of personal hearing to the schools. Pending consideration of the objections, these schools would not be entitled to collect any further fees. Mr. Rao submitted that this academic year had gone with lesser determination of fee since the committee could not decide on the fee structure without finalising the objections before the end of this academic year.
Mr. Wilson pointed out that 4,534 institutions had already accepted the committee's order.
Therefore, other schools should not be permitted to collect any excess fee than what was permitted by the committee. Justice Sathasivam made it clear to counsel that when there was an expert committee to go into the question of fixation of fees, “we can't go into all these issues. You agitate your grievances before the committee, which will consider and pass appropriate orders.”
In its SLP, the federation pointed out that the committee ought to have considered the objections of the 6,400 schools within 30 days and the High Court had given unwarranted findings without correctly appreciating the provisions of the relevant Act.