Govt tables 2 education bills in Assembly

The Delhi government on Friday passed a legislation to allow audit of private schools’ accounts by a panel to check exorbitant fees, diversion of fees for non-educational purposes and allow public scrutiny of the fee structure.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tabled the Delhi School Education Amendment Bill and the Delhi Schools Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee Bill after a walkout by opposition Bench members.

The Delhi School Education Amendments Bill for stopping interviews of students seeking admission in school and capitation fee was also presented in the House, along with the government’s announcement to create 8,000 new classrooms and build 20 new schools. The Opposition BJP walked out in protest against introduction of the Delhi School Education Bill, which was passed without seeking prior approval of Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the Central government.

Later, the Delhi School (Verification of Accounts and Refund of Excess Fee) Bill, 2015 — that promises transparency through audit of school accounts by a committee — was passed by a voice vote and thumping of desk. The government will constitute a committee for the purpose of verification of the accounts of school in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

If any chartered accountant or firm of chartered accountants who have been engaged for verification of accounts and who, in the opinion of the Committee, have wrongly verified the accounts of the school, that CA or firm of chartered accountants shall be liable to a fine up to a maximum of ten times the financial implication of such wrong verification.

The fate of the bill will depend on the stand taken by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung when it is sent to him after being passed in the House. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said: “The government respects autonomy of schools, but financial irregularity will be punished very stringently.”

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was not present in the House, tweeted immediately after the legislation was passed and said: “Congratulations Manish for presenting such huge systemic reforms in education.

“We want to restore the public trust in educational institutions and check private schools which are operating like commercial shops,” Kejriwal said.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the penalties for violators of the provisions have been made realistic. “The existing provisions provide for cancellation of the registration of a school but this puts the teachers and students in difficulty. Therefore, we are bringing in a provision of collecting fees from the school management.” 

The problem of charging capitation fee and subjecting child and their parents to various screening procedure by private schools have been well documented and various complaints have been received by the Delhi government.
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