Punjab Private School Ordinance Issued
The Punjab government on Saturday promulgated the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation Amendment) Ordinance 2015 to regulate the affairs of the private schools. This was done as a response to the increased protest by parents of the students seeking education at private institutes over the exorbitant increase in the school fees.
Under the amended Ordinance no private institute shall charge fee which is greater than the one charged in the previous year. In case of violation heavy fine amounting to Rs 4 million can be imposed and in future any proposed increase in school fees will be made in consultation with the government. In case there exists a reasonable cause for the increase, the charge may apply to the registration authority at least three months before the start of next academic year with the proposal of the fees. Similarly the admission fee or the security shall not exceed the amount equal to the tuition fee payable by the student for a month. The fee includes admission fee, tuition fee, security, laboratory fee, library fee or any other fee or amount charged by an institution from a student. Furthermore, the institute shall not make it compulsory for the parents to buy textbooks, uniform or any other material from a particular shop or provider.
“The Registering Authority shall fix the maximum amount of fee which will be charged by an institution or a category of institutions from the students. The institution shall not charge any amount from the students other than the fee and the in-charge shall refund within seven days from the commencement of this Ordinance the additional fee already charged or adjust it with the fee immediately payable by the student,” read the ordinance. Any person aggrieved of the final order of the Registering Authority, has the option of filing an appeal to the Commissioner of the division within thirty days and the Commissioner shall resolve the appeal within thirty days and the decision of the Commissioner shall be considered as final.
In case of any violation of the provisions of Ordinance by the in-charge, the Registering Authority after providing reasonable opportunity of defense can impose administrative penalty up to Rs 20,000 per day accruing from the date the notice is served to the institute. If this violation continues for the more than 30 days, , the Registering Authority, in addition to any other action or penalty under the Ordinance, shall file a complaint against the in-charge in the court of the first class magistrate and the court can punish the in-charge with fine up to Rs2 million but shall not be less than Rs200,000. If an in-charge runs the institution without registration under the Ordinance, he will be liable to punishment of fine up to Rs4 million but not less than Rs300,000.
The Ordinance makes it clear that no punishment or fine shall be imposed unless the in-charge is given a resonalble opportunity to be heard.