May 30, 1997
MUMBAI, May 29: Quick on the heels of yesterday’s order, a huge donation amount totalling over Rs 2.84 crore is to be shortly recovered from three well-known schools in Thane by the government. It’s to be returned to all the parents who had to forcibly pay capitation fees for KG admissions.
The Minister of State for Education, Anil Deshmukh, has reportedly asked the education secretary and the director of education to take the required action against the three Thane schools — the A K Joshi High School, the Saraswathi High School (Panchpakhadi), and the Saraswati High School (Rabodi) — for violating the Anti-Capitation Fee Act (1987). The state may also appoint administrators in the schools if the managements are unable to pay back the money.
The schools had collected a total of Rs 28,456,853 as donations for senior KG and junior KG admissions from 1991 onwards, as per the official inquiry report submitted by the education officer of Thane district last year.
Surprisingly, however, though the report (with documentary evidence) on the practice was submitted in 1996 itself, no action was taken for a full year, despite constant reminders to officials by Deshmukh.
Sources in Mantralaya also revealed that the minister had recently written a confidential letter to the school education secretary, Kumud Bansal, directing her to take immediate action against the schools before the press blows up the issue, as the matter was earlier discussed in the Assembly.
Deshmukh admitted on Thursday that he too was surprised why the case was pending for so long. “I was pursuing the case and on April 2 this year a government resolution was issued in this regard. But when a delegation of parents again complained to me about the inaction, I was forced to take steps again,” he said. “This is certainly a very big scandal as for the first time donation money of over Rs 2.84 crore is to be recovered by the state.” Deshmukh commented.
Authorities of the Saraswati High School (Rabodi) and the Saraswathi High School (Panchpakhadi) were unavailable for comment on account of the summer holidays. Express Newsline could speak with S V Karandikar, the chairman of the Vidya Prasarak Mandal, which runs the A K Joshi High School. Reacting strongly to the latest government directions, he said: “We are unable to return such a high amount of money. It has already been utilised in various funds managed by us.” Karandikar also added that some money which had gone into their junior college development fund has been included in the donation amounts calculated by the government. “We are also not happy with the haphazard method in which the state conducted its inquiry last year,” he said.
However, Deshmukh reiterated that the money would be recovered as the state had proof in the form of donation receipts and account books maintained by the school.
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