Clearly unhappy with the confusion prevailing in implementing the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the Bombay high court, on Friday, sought clarification from the Maharashtra govt as to who would bear the extra cost in case the school fees exceed the stipulated fee amount.
The division bench of justices AV Mohta and Amjad Sayed asked the govt to clarify on the issue after it was pointed out during the hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) that some parents don't admit their children in certain schools under RTE as they feared having to pay additional fees. The PIL was filed by Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti, an NGO, on behalf of affected parents whose children have not got admission under RTE Act.
The HC will hear advocate general Darius Khambata on the matter on Aug 4.
The govt has also been asked to clarify its statement that it was planning to extend RTE provisions to junior and senior KG as well. RTE is currently applicable only from Class 1.
The govt had sanctioned Rs 12,315 as fees for the academic year 2012-13 and Rs 14,621 for 2013-14. The fees in private unaided schools are sometimes higher than this and hence parents fear they may have to shell out the additional amount. They also fear having to buy books which are too expensive. "The reimbursements are so very less. Who will bear the fees beyond the notified amount?" asked justice Mohta.
To this, additional government pleader I Calcuttawala said school managements would have to bear the costs as part of their social responsibility. A visibly irked justice Mohta said it was wrong on the part of the govt to assume that all schools were making profit. "Also, where is the provision in the Act which says school managements will bear the fees over and above the stipulated amount?" asked justice Sayed.
To this, Anil Sakhare, the BMC counsel said school managements were aware that they would have to bear the additional cost and cannot charge the students admitted through RTE in any manner.
The judges also remarked that the govt had not spread enough awareness on the matter or informed parents that children would be provided books as well.
The govt also reiterated it would leave the seats vacant in case there were not enough students to be admitted under RTE.
The judges sought to know how the admission process was outside Mumbai. In Mumbai it takes place online. Round 1 and 2 have been completed.