January 8, 2022 3:30:55 am
With Raisina Bengali School in CR Park set to be auctioned in a week, parents and teachers are unsure of what lies ahead even as the school management says they are trying to stop the auction and the Delhi High Court has encouraged the Delhi government to take over its management.
On November 11, a Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) ordered that the government-aided school, established in 1985, would go up for e-auction on January 14 at a reserve price of Rs 81 crore. It had taken a Rs 2 crore loan from United Bank of India in 2005. With default on payments, the amount owed has grown to Rs 8 crore now.
In its order, the DRT observed that it had provided “various opportunities” to the school to repay the amount “as per its convenience”. It also observed that they had also been allowed to sell the land by themselves.
Following this, a group of students, through their parents, moved the Delhi High Court seeking that the proposed auction be set aside. While the court had rejected this relief, it sought to know whether students would be allowed to complete this academic year.
On Wednesday, the counsel for ASREC, at whose behest the auction is being conducted, submitted that “keeping in view the academic career of the petitioners and other students”, they will not “disturb” the school and its students till March 31, the end of the ongoing academic session.
However, parents and students are unsure of what happens after that. “There has been no communication with us by the school authorities, so we are in the dark. There has been no information on what the plan is, or if the school will be relocated elsewhere,” said a parent.
Staff, similarly, say they have little information. “There has been no meeting either with us, or with parents who are the most important stakeholders. There are permanent and ad hoc staff working in the school and there’s no clarity of what our position is,” said a staff member.
Members of the Governing Body say that their focus is currently on preventing the auction from happening at all. “We are trying very hard to stop the auction. We have appealed against the DRT’s order and the hearing is on January 10, and we are hoping for the best. We are appealing to the public to donate and contribute funds so that we can repay the loan and save the school. The current governing body had been formed in July 2017 and soon after, the lockdown started and the donations we depended on dried up, and there were very little funds even for day-to-day work,” said Sukumar Biswas, president of the governing body.
The petitioners in the Delhi High Court had also asked that the Directorate of Education be directed to take over the management of the school. The counsel for the Directorate had submitted that since it is a minority institution, it cannot initiate any steps for taking over the management of the school on its own but that it has no objection for initiating steps if the court directs it to.
While the court did not issue directions that it must “necessarily” do so, it stated that the Directorate “ought to explore” it, and that the petitioners and other aggrieved parties are free to make representations to it.
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