HC seeks Delhi govt’s stand on PIL for CAG audit of private schools

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the city government’s stand in a public interest litigation seeking audit of accounts of all unaided private schools here by the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG).

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan gave notice of the petition filed by Jan Seva Welfare Society and also sought the stand of the CAG and all unaided private schools in the capital.

The petitioner contended that unaided private schools cannot be allowed to increase their fees until their accounts are audited by the CAG and examined by the DoE.

Opposing the petition, Delhi government lawyer Santosh Kumar Tripathi said there is no legal requirement for the accounts of unaided private schools to be compulsorily audited by the CAG.

He said the law requires schools that have the autonomy to fix fees to submit their accounts to the Directorate of Education (DoE) for audit.

The bench, which also included Justice Mini Pushkarna, expressed reservations about entrusting the CAG with the additional task of monitoring over a thousand private schools.

The counsel for the CAG said that special auditors can be appointed for this purpose as right to education is an important right.

The petitioner has submitted that according to an RTI response, no unsubsidized schools have been audited by CAG in Delhi after 2010 and the DoE has also not examined their accounts while their fees have been increased without any thought.

The petitioner expressed concern that private schools are charging exorbitant tuition fees and imposing other charges beyond the permitted limits, which has resulted in their “unjust and illegal enrichment”.

“It is a duty of DOE and CAG to audit the accounts of all private schools in Delhi. However, it has come to the notice of the petitioner that DOE and CAG are acting in complete conspiracy and connivance with the unaided private schools, and have completely violated and ignored the provisions and mandate of the law,” said the petition, filed through advocates Bankey Bihari, Yogesh Goel and Sanjay Gautam.

“Issue appropriate writ, order or directions in the nature of mandamus directing no increase in school fees until the accounts of unaided schools are audited by CAG and examined by DOE,” the petition prayed.

The case will be heard further in January.

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