Bombay HC Seeks Action Against Culprits, Appoints Committee To Curb Malpractices

the Bombay High Court recently dealt with a petition demonstrating malpractices in the Maharashtra Education Department and constituted a committee to curb the same, while asking the government to continue its related efforts to remedy the situation by recovering monies.

A Bench of Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Sanjay Mehare appointed the three-member committee in light of practice of showing inflated student strength so as to appoint more teachers in aided and private schools.

Petitioner stated that on the record of the State Government large number of students are alleged to have been admitted in various schools granted aid by the State Government and in the ratio prescribed, large number of teachers and other staff are appointed by such schools granted aid by the State Government.

The petitioner alleged that the numbers of students alleged to have been admitted to various schools are inflated by a large number of such schools in connivance with some of the officers of the State Government who are empowered to grant sanction for grant-in-aid and other facilities to these schools for imparting education to these students. He submitter that, since the number of students are fraudulently inflated, crores of rupees of public money is diverted by such fraudulent means by the State Government under the guise of providing grant-in aid and for providing various other facilities on such students who are in fact not admitted in those schools.

The state government had filed an affidavit-in-reply, whereby it stated that from 2012 onwards these inquiries were going on and after grant of proper and requisite opportunities to the managements/schools finally the Education Department concluded that, the huge amount of Rs. 4,10,39,604/- had been required to be spent by the State Government for primary section and Rs.2,24,88,277/- to be spent for secondary section.

The Education Department started taking steps to get the amount recovered from those managements and schools found guilty of malpractices. Further, the state government said that the School Education Department has already taken conscious decision and set out a policy vide circular dated 29.09.2020 to get the data and Aadhar linking of all pupils studying either with school ie private, aided schools, unaided schools, the schools under Zilla Parish and Municipal Administration.

The School Education Department revealed several invalid Aadhar counts and on the basis of which the respondents have started taking corrective measures. It is now required that all the students shall have to enrol over SARAL Pranali and the work of same is going on. The School Education Department has also provided requisite aid and machinery to the subordinate office of the respondents to enable them to enrol the students over SARAL Pranali easily.

It further stated in the affidavit that, approximately 22 lakhs students take admission in 1st standard every academic year and it is therefore necessary to do consistent work of updating the work of Aadhar Card. It is on going process and the School Education Department has decided to grant final approval to the staffing pattern only after completion of the Aadhar enrollment of SARAL Pranali. After enrollment of all the students, the ratio of pupil-teacher can be easily maintained and managed.

The petitioner lamented that if this exercise would have been started 20 years back, such type of malpractices going on in the Education Department would have been controlled and substantial amount of public money could have been saved.

the bench said, “These steps, though believedly taken by the Education Department to control such malpractices are not sufficient. This Court has to go to the root of the matter and to find out as to why such malpractices were allowed to be practiced in the last two decades in the Education Department. The culprits who are benefited of said malpractice by diverting the public money by inflating the number of students in various aided schools should be penalized by an appropriate action. Though the affidavits filed by the State Government indicates that, amount is recovered by the Education Department from some of the schools, the action taken by the State Government is not even to the extent of 5%.”

The bench suggested that a committee can be constituted to look into the serious allegations of the malpractices pointed out by the petitioner in the petition and to suggest the remedial measures to overcome the problems of malpractices in the Education Department and to prevent such malpractice in future.

In this light, the bench appointed a Committee of Shri. Justice PV Hardas (Retired), High Court Judge Bombay, Smt. Aditi, Ekbote, Scientist NIC Pune and Mr AB Girase, a Counsel of this Court as members of the Committee.

The Committee shall shall call for the suggestions from the stakeholders including the managements running various schools, parents and teachers, social workers, some of the officers of the Education Department and representatives of the NGOs and submit a report recommending the remedial measures to be taken in the future to curb such alleged malpractices pointed out by the petitioner in the Education Department, so as to avoid any further diversion of public money by such alleged fraudulent activities. The Committee shall consider in its report whether any of the stakeholders can be found accountable for such alleged malpractices. The bench request from the Committee to submit its report on or before 07/31/2022 and placed the matter on board for direction on 08/01/2022.

The bench further clarified that this does not preclude the Government from continuing its efforts to recover the amount from the responsible persons indulging in such malpractices.

Case Title : Brijmohan Dhirajprasad Mishra v The State of Maharashtra and Others

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