The Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside an interim order of a single Judge restraining the State from enforcing the order of the fee fixation committee for private unaided schools for this academic year.

In its common order on appeals challenging the single Judge's order, the First Bench comprising Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S.Sivagnanam said the interim order could not be sustained in law. From a perusal of the operative portion of the impugned order, it was clear that the interim relief by way of an injunction had been granted in favour of even those schools who did not assail the committee's order. The single Judge had stayed the operation of the impugned individual fee structure dated May 7 this year and a press release dated August 11. Such an interim order ought not to have been passed in favour of those schools which were not before the court.

Disposing of the appeals, the Bench said the 6,400 institutions which had submitted their objections to the committee's order would be entitled to pursue their objections. Pending consideration of the objections, these schools would 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. If the fees collected was in excess of what had been fixed by the panel in its May order, the excess sum should be deemed to be retained as a deposit by the respective institutions.

Any additional fee collected by these institutions after the interim order should also be retained as a deposit. That would abide by the panel's final decision.

The 4,534 institutions which had accepted the committee's order would not be entitled to collect any excess fee than what had been permitted by the committee.

The Bench directed the committee to consider the objections of the 6,400 institutions by affording an opportunity of personal hearing to the schools to enable them to submit material for consideration and thereafter pass individual orders as expeditiously as possible, preferably within four months.

The institutions would be entitled to submit further material at the time of personal hearing.

No institution should demand from any parent any fee more than what had been indicated. If any specific complaint was received by the authorities against any such institution, it should be considered as per law after notice to the institution concerned, the Bench said.