Even as the Delhi government’s proposal to take over 449 private unaided schools “as a last resort” got the official nod by L-G Anil Baijal, government officials said at least 17 schools had already “refunded excess fee charged from parents despite government orders”. Officials maintained that the proposal would allow the schools to initially respond to the showcause notice within “two weeks” as to why “they should not be taken over the government”.
The official added, “The L-G office has also cautioned the government to ensure that studies in the present term are not impacted.” In doing so, the L-G office echoed the concerns raised by the Delhi HC, which said that “our paramount interest is to ensure that students don’t suffer”. Last week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said, “The schools will not be allowed to loot students like they used to do under previous governments due to political collusion. But if they don’t implement, we will take them over as a last resort. I hope we don’t have to take over.”
According to a government official, the amount collectively owed by the schools amounted to around Rs 300 crore. S K Bhattacharya, president of Action Committee Unaided Recognised Private Schools, said schools would respond to the showcause notices. “There are two types of schools — a large number of schools have grievances and are not satisfied with the order, and want to challenge it. Then there are some who have excess money, which they will refund,” he said.
“But government cannot take over schools unless and until there is substantial proof against them… This is not a simple matter,” he added. DPS Mathura Road Principal Manohar Lal said he is yet to receive the order from the L-G’s office. “A writ petition in the matter would have been filed in the High Court today, or it will be filed tomorrow. We are ready to obey whatever the court says,” he said.