The tussle between private school institutions and a recent Supreme Court judgment capping their fees has shown us that even the institution of education, the most noblest of endeavours, is not spared the ugly head of capitalism. The Court’s judgment, which was heard in December, ordered all private schools charging above Rs5,000 in monthly fee to cut the charges by 20 per cent. However, that is a feat easier said than done as it seems that private organisations, even if they are in the field of education, can go to many lengths to preserve their profits

Reports indicate that elite private schools have found creative loopholes to defy the clear SC order by discounting the standard fees but ensuring that the net payable amount remains the same. Schools are also trying to get around the provision in the said SC order to return the summer vacation fee by telling parents that the fee they had been charged was not a summer vacation fee but was part of an actual annual payable sum of 9-month fee in 12 “easy instalments”.

These are just some of the ways that private school institutions have attempted to subvert the order. Some of these institutions have started adopting more subtle tactics to preserve profits, which can have serious consequences on the quality of education- such as lowering teachers’ salaries, reducing the amount spent on classroom supplies and cutting down on extra-curricular events for students.

Perhaps this should have been expected- Courts giving a fee reduction order to private organisations was bound to give way to such consequences. It was inevitable that these private institutions would centre profit generation as its priority, even if it gets in the way of providing quality education. However, these schools should note that, cutting back of facilities aside, their charging the same fee to the parents under clever disguises can amount to contempt of court. Whether the order was fair or not is another debate, but the order of the Court must be respected. These tactics, though creative, are in violation of the SC order and if the schools continue them, they can expect legal challenges, which would be valid considering the schools are not respecting the Court’s decision. These institutions would be advised to take the legal route to address their grievances, through a review petition, instead of subverting the law which will only bring upon them trouble.