State education director (primary) Dr Shridhar Salunke has asked the head of the PMC education board to take legal action against the principal and other officials of Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya (NMV), a Marathi-medium school, in view of a detailed inquiry report submitted in 2009 to the government that proved Rs 45.39 lakh was illegally charged by the school from students as capitation fee between the academic years 2007 and 2009.
Salunke issued a special letter to Shivaji Daundkar, head of the PMC education board, on Monday and asked for the lodging of a criminal complaint against officials of the prestigious school within three days. MiD DAY has copy of the letter as well as the report on the inquiry conducted in March 2009. In the past three-and-half years, no action was taken against the school by the state education department. Finally on Monday, Salunke gave instructions on action to be taken in the matter.
Daundkar said he received the letter yesterday and will act on it today. “I am sending my staff to the school for the required procedures,” Daundkar said.
He said his office would also go over the inquiry report again before proceeding in the matter. “The director has asked me to verify the facts and figures mentioned in the report before deciding on the course of action,” he said.
Salunke said that there was a clear violation of the Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act, 1987, and the school principal and other officials may face legal action.
On why no action had been taken since 2009, he said he had only recently taken charge of his post. The detailed report was submitted by the then Zilla Parishad expansion officer (education) K D Bhujbal on March 31, 2009, after frequent complaints against the school.
The inquiry report
In the report, Bhujbal has come down heavily on the school principal for allegedly demanding donations from Std I students. The inquiry report states: “The NMV’s principal Nanda Mane has accepted that in the academic year 2007-08 the school charged Rs 11,44,540 as capitation fees from the students at entry level i.e at the admissions of first standard.
After getting targeted by the parents for demanding donations the school changed the name as capitation fee but continued to charge similar amount under the name of special school service equipments and charged total Rs 45,39,280 between 2007 and 2009.” School principal Mane refuted the charge of taking capitation fees from students.
“In the last five years, at least 10 times I have faced an inquiry by various government officers,” Mane said. “I have been deliberately targeted by some people, but till now no charges have been proved against me. The school has never charged capitation fees.” Shikshan Prasarak Mandali vice-president Anant Mate said the school only charged a special fee that could not be bracketed under the category of capitation fee.
“In the last three years, we have never got any government notice regarding the matter,” Mate said. “Yes, the school charged special fees for providing facilities like computer training and other curricular activities, but these do not come under capitation fees.”
Social activists pushed for action
Despite receiving a detailed inquiry report in March 2009 from a ZP officer on the capitation fee issue at NMV, the state government did not take any action against the school in the past three-and-half years. It was social activists Prof Harsh Gaikvad and Prof Pravin Ransure who pushed the matter at the education directorate office last month, and as a result the education director finally acted.