Srinagar, Apr 28: The Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) for private schools has maintained that the order relating to fixation of transport charges applies to all schools who are charging transport fees from the students, irrespective of whether the transport is provided by the school or outsourced to a private transporter.
FFRC has pulled up the management of Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School Rajbagh here for what it said “overcharging” transport fees from students in violation of the committee orders.
In this regard a notice has been issued to the principal Presentation Convent by Chairman FFRC Justice (Retd) Sunil Hali after a complaint was filed by Dr. Reyaz Ahmad Dagga, a parent whose child is enrolled in the school.
As per the notice, the complainant alleged that the school was charging Rs 1480 per month from the students as bus fee, which was over and above the fee prescribed by the committee. In its order, the committee stated that the school had admitted to charging Rs 1480 per month and was required to hike the bus fee by 14 percent from the amount which was being charged as per the order issued by FFRC on October 6 of 2022.
However, as per the order, the school was charging Rs 4900 for two months as revealed on the receipt issued by the school.
"A notice was issued to the school to appear before the committee on April 26 of 2023 to explain their position as to why they were charging fees over and above the prescribed fee by the committee. However, the school failed to appear and explain their position," the FFRC reads.
On April 27, the school referred to a dispute between the complainant and school which was pending in the court of law, "which the committee found irrelevant for the present proceedings."
"It has no bearing to the present context in which the notice has been issued to you. The law will take its own course in case the complainant has committed any crime. Therefore it is irrelevant for the present proceedings. Your reply to the notice issued by this office is that the order dated October 6 of 2022 relating to the fixation of transport charges does not apply to your school as it applies to those schools who are providing their own transport," the FFRC order reads.
The FFRC in its order has stated that in pursuance to the complaint filed by the parent, notices were issued to the school management as the main grievance of the complainant was that school was charging Rs 1480 per month from the students as bus fee.
"This committee vides order No 09 FFRC Dated 06-10-2022 after detailed discussion with the stakeholders including the school had allowed a hike of 14 percent to the schools on the fee being charged by them in October 2019. A per the order No 1 FFRC (TF)2021 dated September 19 of 2021 the school has admitted that the school was charging Rs 1480 per month. This order was resolved in presence of the complainant, transport service provider, Principal and Manager of the school," the FFRC order reads.
The committee further clarified that the order relating to the fixation of transport charges applies to all schools who are charging transport fees from the students, irrespective of whether the transport is provided by the school or outsourced to a private transporter.
Now, the FFRC has given "one last opportunity" to the school management to appear before the committee to explain their position by or before May 2 of 2023 at 3 pm.
"In case of non-appearance, the school may face consequences provided under law, which includes imposing a fine," the FFRC order reads.
Notably, the J&K Government has constituted FFRC to regulate and fix the fee structure of private schools in Jammu & Kashmir and ensure that the private schools do not charge exorbitant fees from the students, in violation of orders.
The FFRC in its order has stated that the school has given an explanation that it has outsourced this business to some private transporter.
"There is some misconception in understanding the charging of transport fee. The committee under its rules has to fix, determine and regulate the fee which includes the Transport fee also. It is immaterial how the school provides this facility to the students whether it is school owned transport or the same is being outsourced," the order reads.
The Chairman FFRC has stated that in the case of this particular school, the transport facility has not been arranged by the parents with some private company and they were directly charging transport fee from students.
"Therefore it is your exclusive responsibility to charge a fee which is permissible under law. What are your terms and conditions with the transport company is a bilateral issue between you and the transport company. You cannot escape the responsibility of charging fees as per the FFRC order issued on October 9 of 2022 which provides a hike of 14 percent at the existing fee charged by your school," the order reads.