New Delhi: The Delhi government has allowed recognised unaided private schools on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) land to increase their fees by 15% as an “interim" measure to comply with the seventh central pay commission (CPC) recommendations.

A circular to this effect was issued by the Directorate of Education on 17 October, following which the opposition BJP today alleged that the move opens up a “Pandora’s box of harassment and trouble for parents".

The circular, however, reads that the general instruction for all private unaided schools, irrespective of their land status, is that, a fee hike is “not mandatory" for recognised unaided schools in Delhi.

“All schools must, first of all, explore the possibility of utilising the existing reserves to meet any shortfall in payment of salaries and allowances, as a consequence of increase in the salaries and allowances of employees," it reads.

The Delhi government circular defines two categories of such schools. One running either on private land or on DDA/Land and Development Office (L&DO) allotted land, but not having a condition to seek prior sanction of the Director (Education), and the other running on land allotted by the DDA/government land-owning agencies having condition to seek prior sanction of the Director (Education), before any fee hike.

“Schools in Delhi have to comply with the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations, which ask for a nearly 25% increase in salaries of schoolteachers. The arrears will need to be paid with 7.5% of tuition fees of students, while the new salaries will be funded by the 15% fee hike, with effect from 1 July 2017," the circular reads.

Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said the city government by permitting 15% interim fee hike in private schools has “once again opened a Pandora’s box of harassment and trouble for parents".

In a statement, Gupta, also the president of the Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh, alleged, with this order, the government has “paved the way for earning of money by school management and exploitation of teachers and staff".

“As this is an interim order issued arbitrarily by the government, it contains large number of defects and infirmities which has the potential for unending legal battle," the senior BJP leader said.

Insisting that the government “must review its decision" in the larger public interest, he alleged the government has “arbitrarily increased the fee without taking into account whether reserve funds are available with schools".

The circular, says, “In order to avoid any further delay in giving benefits of the seventh CPC to teachers and other employees, and to ensure that the burden of payment of arrears does not accumulate on the parents due to further delay in extension of the seventh CPC to the employees, an interim fee increase subject to following upper limits, is permitted to the school."

It, however, adds, the interim increase is to be “levied only if it is felt that in case of schools not having sufficient reserves or accumulated funds available from any other source", in accordance with the clauses mentioned in it.

Besides, the fee hike would be subject to scrutiny in the records of the school if the need arises, to see as to whether there was any necessity to increase the fee having regard to the financial position of the said schools, the circular states.

It also states that “the managing committee of the school shall hold a meeting with the group of teachers and parents which would include at least one parent representative from each section of the school and will present the detailed budget of the school".