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Gujarat government files FIR against minority school in Godhra for running ‘illegally’ for over 35 years

The FIR comes in the backdrop of ongoing petitions moved by nearly 100 religious and linguistic minority schools before the Gujarat High Court challenging the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Act, 2021, terming these as “unconstitutional”.

Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad |
August 26, 2021 12:50:59 am
According to the case, the school management filed an application for minority certificate in January 2020 following which the education inspector at the DEO visited the school. (Representational)

The Gujarat government has filed an FIR against a Christian-run secondary school in Godhra for allegedly functioning “illegally” for more than 35 years.

The FIR comes in the backdrop of ongoing petitions moved by nearly 100 religious and linguistic minority schools before the Gujarat High Court challenging the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (Amendment) Act, 2021, terming these as “unconstitutional”. In response, the state government and GSHSEB have submitted that their right to administer is not absolute and is subject to imposition of reasonable restrictions by the state.

The FIR filed under section 406, 420, 465, 468, 471, 114 of IPC for criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery by Godhra A division police station on the complaint of Jignesh Kumar Patel, education inspector at District Education office in Godhra, against chairman Simon Christian and secretary Emanuel Kant of the management committee of Mccabe Memorial High School, Godhra, along with its principal Suresh Parmar.

GSHSEB secretary Dinesh Patel said, “Since it is handled at the district level, the matter did not come to light at the Board’s level… It looks as if the forged minority certificate was never verified by the DEO. It only came to light both at the district and state’s office after the school management applied for a new certificate.”

The Mccabe Memorial High School, managed by Methodist Church in India Gujarat Regional Conference Godhra, has around 200 students enrolled from Class 9 to 12 and it is alleged in the complaint that it has been running without a valid minority certificate since its inception in 1984.

“It came to light in January 2020 when the school applied for a fresh minority certificate at the District Education Officer Panchmahal that the school management has forged the minority certificate issued by GSHSEB to Hill Memorial High School, Vadodara. It also submitted a forged minority certificate stating to be issued by then DEO Godhra,” Panchmahal DEO, BS Panchal, told The Indian Express.

According to the case, the school management filed an application for minority certificate in January 2020 following which the education inspector at the DEO visited the school.

“During the visit, it was revealed that the management did not furnish the minority certificate issued at the time of establishing the school, neither could it furnish the register with changes in the management members. Rather, it submitted a photocopy of the certificate of Hill Memorial School Vadodara that was not readable. When asked for the original certificate, the management failed to submit it,” the education inspector states in the FIR lodged on August 23.

After a month, the school management submitted an application for regularisation of four teachers on completion of five years. The application was without a valid minority certificate, which is invalid since the appointments are illegal, DEO B S Panchal, to whom this was informed in writing, said.

The DEO said, “Despite repeated reminders starting from May 2020 for a physical hearing at the DEO office, the school management members failed to turn up, citing the Covid situation.”

As per the FIR, “During a hearing at the commissioner of schools office in Gandhinagar in June 2021, the school management submitted a minority certificate issued by then DEO dated 1999. When verified, the then DEO PM Taviyad stated in writing that it was not his original signature and that the authority to issue a minority certificate was transferred from DEO to GSHSEB since 1995. Also, the certificate submitted by the school management did not reflect in DEO records of 1999.”

Thus, the commissioner of schools office upheld DEO’s order of December 2020 to reject the application. Following this, the GSHSEB issued a show-cause notice to the school management in July 2021.

The management members were heard in the board’s executive meeting where it was decided that the documents were illegal and forged.

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