Director of Education has held that 15% additional increase in tuition fee for the session 2015-2016 by the Schools for air conditioning system is illegal and liable to be refunded / adjusted. There is no dispute that the Schools have installed the air conditioning system. The air conditioning systems have been financed through a loan from a financial institution. The electricity charges are being claimed, under the head tuition fee. There is also no dispute that the respondent no.1 is authorized to regulate the fee and other charges. The tuition fee in terms of the order dated February 11, 2009 and also order dated December 15, 1999, shall be so determined so as to cover the standard cost of establishment including provisions of DA, bonus etc. and all terminal benefits as also the expenditure of revenue nature concerning the curricular activities as distinct from co-curricular activities. The installation of air conditioning system cannot be termed to be connected with curricular activity and co-curricular activity. That apart the capital expenditure has to come through savings from the tuition. It is not the case of the petitioners that it is on account of savings that they have funded the air conditioning system. If that is so, the expenses incurred for electricity charges for running the air conditioning system cannot be by way of increase in tuition fee. It is immaterial if defraying of electrical bills is in the nature of revenue expense but still, cannot be qualified to be met by way of increase in tuition fee, at least in the facts of this case.Online GST Certification Course by TaxGuru & MSME- Click here to Join
That apart, the submission of Mr. Sibal that the stand of the respondent no.1 that electricity and maintenance charges are overheads, must be charged as annual charges is incorrect and misplaced by relying on the recommendations of the Duggal Committee is concerned, the Duggal Committee held tuition fee to comprise expenditure of revenue nature for improvement of curricular facilities like library, laboratories, science fee etc. The recommendation does not include air conditioning system, nor as stated above, it qualifies as curricular activity or co-curricular activity. It has been rightly held in the impugned order that the charges for electricity bill can be claimed under the head annual charges as the same cannot be included in tuition fees, and overheads, nor it is expenses on play ground, sports equipment, cultural activities etc. and also on co-curricular activities.
The plea of Mr. Sibal alternatively that instead of tuition fee, the petitioners could have claimed; the charges under the head annual charges, and as such the action cannot be called as illegal, is concerned, the same does not appeal to this Court, more so when there is a finding in the impugned order that the schools have already increased annual charges in the session 2015-2016. The school could not have further claimed the electricity charges under the head annual charges. The submission of Mr. Narayan that the increase in tuition fee has a cascading effect on, development fee, Annual charges, and, the tuition fee of the next academic session is appealing. I find no illegality in direction No. 2.