While numerous schools in Hyderabad have given in to legal pressure from parentsâ€™ associations and have drastically reduced their fees to match government approved levels, a few institutions have refused to back down. On December 23, the Madhapur police registered an FIR against two such private schools in the area.
Based on the complaint of a social and anti-corruption activist, the police registered an FIR under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 418 (Cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest offender is bound to protect) of the IPC against CGR International School and Manthan International School for charging excess fees and donations in violation of government rules.
â€śMany parents don't know that they can approach police. People think that since everything is happening so openly, it must be legal. A lot of parents have been cheated and continue to be victims of the schools. The schools violate norms and charge high fees,â€ť said Vijay Gopal, the activist who filed the complaint.
According to the Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions Act, 1983, no school is allowed to collect fees or donations from parents, in excess of the fee prescribed by the government.
According to Government Order No 42, issued in 2010, for primary and upper primary schools, the annual fee per student cannot exceed Rs 9000 per year. For high schools, the annual fee per student cannot exceed Rs 12,000.
If schools wish to charge fees in excess of these limits, they have to obtain prior approval from the District Fee Regulatory Committee (DFRC). They also have to submit a justification report along with the audited statements of the previous three years before April of the academic year prior to the one in which they wish to begin charging higher fees.
Additionally, according to Government Order MS 91, application fees cannot exceed Rs 100 and registration fees cannot exceed Rs 500 for private unaided schools.
â€śBut they are charging application fees of more than Rs 500 and registration fees go up to Rs 2000,â€ť he added.
R Kalinga Rao, Inspector at the Madhapur police station, said, â€śWe have sent notice to both the schools and wrote a letter to the Education Department as well. The investigation is still going on in this case. We are also seeking legal opinion on this case. After the Education Departmentâ€™s reply, we will take action accordingly.â€ť
The News Minute attempted to contact Manthan International School regarding the case, but was told that the concerned person was not available to comment on it.
The management of CGR International School told TNM that the school does not take any donation from studentsâ€™ parents. However, the school charges Rs 25,000 for annual maintenance, apart from the total fees.
The Hyderabad Schools Parents' Association, which has been fighting a consistent battle against exorbitant school fees, has welcomed the action taken by activist Vijay Gopal, and plans to raise complaints against more schools.
â€śWe support his cause, as we have been fighting for a very long time. Schools have been cheating the parents in the name of facilities and infrastructure. Facilities and infrastructure have not been improved, but fees have gone up five times or more,â€ť said Ashish Naradi, executive member of HSPA.
â€śThe private schools come out and say we will increase the fees by 10% to 15% every year. We donâ€™t mind paying, but there should be some limit. We are going to file FIR against nearly 14 schools within this week,â€ť he added.
The HSPA is also hoping that the government takes more permanent action in the matter, and comes through on its plan to issue a comprehensive government order on school fee regulation based on recommendations from the draft report submitted by the association.