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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Under scanner of House panel: Four South Delhi schools

These reports contain observations and recommendations of a ‘Committee on Petitions’ under AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, constituted after ‘petitions’ alleging these irregularities were submitted by parent associations of these schools.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi | Published: December 4, 2019 4:54:01 am
BJP MLAs marshalled out of Delhi Assembly for chanting 'Modi Zindabad' On Apeejay School, too, the committee made observations on “unjustified fee hike” and flouting of fire safety norms. (File)

Reports on financial, construction and safety “irregularities” by four private schools in South Delhi were tabled in the Delhi Assembly, which include recommendations that the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) take over the management of The Indian School.

These reports contain observations and recommendations of a ‘Committee on Petitions’ under AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, constituted after ‘petitions’ alleging these irregularities were submitted by parent associations of these schools. All four schools — The Indian School; Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai; Summer Fields School, Kailash Colony; and KR Mangalam School, GK 2 — are within Bharadwaj’s Greater Kailash assembly constituency.

However, The Indian School and Apeejay School have alleged that the panel’s findings were never communicated to them, so they didn’t have the opportunity to respond. Both also questioned the committee’s jurisdiction to deal with the functioning of private schools, and stated that the Lieutenant Governor and the DoE are the designated authorities for the same.

They also stated that the subject matters are sub judice before the Delhi High Court. While the director of Summer Fields School refused to comment on the matter, the director of KR Mangalam School could not be reached for a comment.

The observations on The Indian School include that it “illegally” increased tuition fee between 2013 and 2019 even after directions from the DoE not to do so; that the school’s building structure is significantly different from the building plan sanctioned by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC); and that fire safety requirements were violated by concealing a basement and porta cabins in the structure.

On Apeejay School, too, the committee made observations on “unjustified fee hike” and flouting of fire safety norms. It observed that Summer Fields School had refused to cooperate with the DoE by refusing to share financial statements to justify its fee hike, and that it has deviated from its sanctioned building plan. It also observed deviations from the building plan in KR Mangalam School, as well as the presence of an “underground fuel tank” containing 2,500 litres of diesel on school premises.

While the reports recommended that the management of The Indian School be taken over with immediate effect, they recommended that the managements of KR Mangalam School and Apeejay School also be taken over if they do not submit their financial statements by December 2. They also recommended that “illegal portions” of the schools be sealed by SDMC.

It also recommended an audit of all private schools in Delhi to check for deviations from sanctioned plans, as well as fire safety audits. It also recommended departmental proceedings against SDMC officers and the fire service department for allowing the alleged lapses.

“The copy of the said report and findings/connected orders, etc have not been made available to us… we have responded to the notice received from the Petitions Committee… clearly stating that the school is governed by the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, and Rules framed thereunder. Thus, the Petitions Committee has no jurisdiction to matters falling within the purview of any statutory tribunal or authority,” read a statement by Apeejay School. “… any wrong representation has the potential of not only adversely affecting the school’s reputation but also harming the career and future prospects of more than 2,500 students and create panic and unrest amongst parents,” read a statement by The Indian School.

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