Bombay HC gives 3-months time to 5 illegal schools for regularisation

Bombay HC gives 3-months time to 5 illegal schools for regularisation
Bombay HC gives 3-months time to 5 illegal schools for regularisation

Taking a lenient stand saying the academic year has begun, the Bombay High Court today granted three months time to five schools that have illegally constructed their building structures on government land to apply for regularisation.

A division bench of justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite Dere was hearing a PIL by Ali Asgar Tehsildar alleging that around eight schools in Malwani area of suburban Malad have illegally constructed extensions to their already existing structures without taking permissions.

Out of the eight schools, St Mathews, St Pauls and Mount Mary, although on private land, have received notice from municipal corporation for illegal construction.

The remaining five schools today accepted before the high court that they have illegally constructed the buildings but sought time to file applications before the civic body for regularisation.

“What education will you (schools) impart to students when your own schools are illegal? Only because students have been admitted and the academic session has begun we propose to show indulgence,” the high court said.

It granted the five schools three-months time to file their applications.

“If within three months the applications are not filed then the corporation is free to take decision in accordance with law. If application is filed then the same shall be decided within two months thereafter,” the high court said.

The bench also allowed an intervention petition filed by BJP MP Gopal Shetty who approached the court in the interest of the school children.

Shetty’s lawyer told the court that over 35,000 students will be affected if the schools are ordered to be demolished. The lawyer informed that since 2014 Shetty has time and again written letters to the civic body raising the issue but nothing has been done.

The petition has been posted for further hearing on July 29.

Delhi issues notice to schools on fees hike

Delhi’s directorate of education (DoE) Friday informed the Delhi High Court that notices have been sent to 25 private schools in the city over fee hike.

The notices come after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report to the high court termed as ‘unreasonable’ the fee hike by 25 private schools, including Modern school and Delhi Public School (DPS), and indicted them for accounting irregularities.

A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Sidhharth Mridul has fixed March 29 for hearing the plea that challenges the Delhi government’s decision to allow the schools to hike tuition and development fees.

Counsel Ashok Aggarwal, representing the Delhi Abhibhavak Mahasangh, sought criminal investigation by an agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into alleged irregularities pointed out by the CAG in the report.

Aggarwal said: ‘The CAG report reveals not only several accounting malpractices but commission of criminal offences. Some agency like the CBI be asked to investigate into it.’

‘The schools did not follow the accounting standards while preparing their final accounts. There was no prescribed accounting format,’ said the 64-page CAG report submitted to the bench Thursday.

The report for 2006-09 was filed on the court’s direction over a parents association’s petition that questioned the Delhi government’s sanction to the private schools to hike their tuition and development fees.

‘There was no evidence of scrutiny of annual accounts and other returns to ascertain that the receipts and expenditures of the schools were in consonance with the projected budget estimates of the schools and any fee hike was not unreasonable,’ read the CAG report.

The audit report was against the accounts of only 25 of the 1,211 private city schools.

The CAG said the schools, which earned profits, prepared accounts showing losses by transferring the surplus funds into the next financial year.

‘The total cumulative revenue surplus as on March 31, 2009, was Rs.93.79 crore and the average cumulative revenue surplus per school during 2004 to 2009 ranged from Rs.2.51 crore to Rs.4.42 crore.

‘Schools build up deficits when they overspend their budgets and carry forward the overspend to future years,’ the report said.

It suggested proper monitoring by the government of the accounts of the schools which were not only shying away from giving admission to poor children but also paying salaries to their staff and teachers on the lines of their counterparts in government schools.

The CAG also pointed out lapses of chartered accountants who audited the accounts of the schools.

‘Our scrutiny of audited accounts of the unaided private schools revealed that none of the auditors had qualified the audit reports in significant cases of non-compliance with the directions of the DoE and provisions of the DSE (Delhi School Education) rules by the schools.’

‘As this amounts to professional lapse, the matter may be taken up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for suitable deterrent action,’ the report said.

The schools had recently enhanced fees by 15 percent without assessing the actual requirement, it said, adding the parents were not apprised of the actual demand arising out of the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission.

They should have first considered their surplus money and then, if required, raised the fees, it said.

Apex court directs troops to vacate northeast schools

The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the home ministry to have all schools in the northeast that have been occupied by paramilitary forces vacated in two months.

The apex court bench of Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar also asked the human resource development ministry to assess infrastructural bottlenecks in schools in the largely mountainous region.

The order came after a public interest litigation drew the court’s attention to the problem of exploitation of children who were transported from northeastern states to the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh allegedly for good education.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights blamed the occupation of schools by paramilitary forces for the children being taken from the northeast to the southern states.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh said most schools were under the occupation of paramilitary forces and that had worsened the situation. She sought the court’s direction to have these vacated.