The Madras High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of the fee structure for private unaided schools fixed by the Justice Govindarajan committee.

Justice K.B.K. Vasuki also stayed the press release issued by the State government, on August 11, asking the schools to abide by the fee structure for the academic year, besides restraining the authorities from implementing and enforcing the orders for the current academic year.

Delivering the judgment on writ petitions filed by private unaided schools as well as associations, Justice Vasuki directed all the petitions to be posted before the appropriate Bench for expeditious final disposal in view of the importance and urgency of the issue involved.

The petitioners sought a direction to permit them to collect the fees as proposed by the schools prior to the fixing of fee by the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee, a statutory panel appointed by the government.

The committee was constituted under the Tamil Nadu Schools (regulation of collection of fee rules) 2009, which came into force on August 7, 2009.

The rules were framed on December 7, 2009. Immediately after the enactment of the Act, all the 10,934 private aided minority and non-minority schools were given a questionnaire each, containing 41 columns and asked to submit the same within a stipulated period.

A total of 10,238 schools submitted the particulars with or without supportive documents.

“It is hardly imaginable and practically impossible that the committee consisting of six members without any able and effective assistance of technically qualified persons such as Chartered Accountants was able to verify all the particulars contained in the questionnaire and determine the fee structure within less than one month…” the Judge said

Though the committee expressed difficulties in revising the fee structure within 30 days, as mandated under its terms of reference, it was able to determine the provisional fee structure within such a short time. This would lead to genuine doubt whether the provisional fee structure was fixed after thorough examination of relevant facts under the Act.

The Judge said considering the provisional nature of the order and the manner in which it was passed, the court had no hesitation to stay it, pointing out that the provisional order is not enforceable.

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