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Lens on fee hike decision

- Parents’ body challenges panel step

Cuttack, Feb. 22: The report of the Fee Structure Committee, Odisha, on the fee structures of Stewart School and New Stewart School has come under judicial scrutiny.

Acting on petitions challenging the report of the committee, Orissa High Court has imposed interim restriction on the collection of enhanced fee by the management of New Stewart School on the basis of the committee’s recommendation.

Earlier, following a dispute regarding the enhanced fees, the court had directed the Fee Structure Committee, Odisha, to determine the fee structure of Stewart School and New Stewart School.

The management of both the schools has not been able to enhance fees since 2011-12 due to legal problems.

For fixing the fee structure of both the schools, Justice K.P. Mohapatra, chairman of the committee, constituted a sub-committee under the chairmanship of R.S. Sahoo, a reputed chartered accountant and a committee member.

Sahoo had submitted his report with recommendations that the committee accepted to present before the court.

On January 3, the principal of New Stewart School issued notices in the students’ school diary regarding the fees being enhanced by over Rs 400 following the committee’s recommendation.

Debraj Nayak and five other members of the parents’ association of New Stewart School challenged the decision in the court.

“The single-judge bench of Justice Sanju Panda, before which the petition came up yesterday, issued an interim stay order on collection of the enhanced fee by the management of New Stewart School on the basis of the Fee Structure Committee’s decision,” petitioners’ counsel Biren Shankar Tripathy told The Telegraph.

The petitioners sought quashing of the committee’s decision, calling it “illegal and arbitrary” as it had allowed the recommendation of the chairman of the sub-committee without hearing out what the parents’ association had to say on the issue.

“The fee structure as recommended by the sub-committee is unreasonably high as compared to the infrastructure and facilities provided by the school,” the petition stated.

“Moreover, the managing committee of the school has issued notice to the students for collection of the fees on the basis of the new structure although it has not been accepted by the high court,” it added.

The Diocese of Cuttack under the Churches of North India manages both the schools.