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School asked to return Rs 1.5 crore capitation fees

The state education department and the Byculla police have locked horns over the issue of reimbursement of capitation fees collected from parents by St Mary’s School authorities.


School for scandal: St Mary’s High School, Mazgaon, allegedly collected the money in just four days in May 2010. Pic/Sameer Markande

More than four weeks after the education department asked the police to lodge a case, the latter has refused to oblige. On May 29, the education deputy inspector of South Mumbai wrote a letter (copy with MiD DAY) to Byculla police instructing them to file a First Information Report (FIR) against St Mary’s High School State Board administration for not refunding Rs 1.45-crore collected from parents as capitation fees, despite giving the school authorities a month’s notice to do so.


Money matters: Over a span of four days in May 2010, St Mary’s school, Mazgaon had allegedly collected Rs 1.45 crore from the parents as capitation fees. Pic/Sameer Markande

The Byculla police, however, have refused to register the FIR, claiming that it is not their duty to register an FIR against the school, and have stated that the onus lies with the education department, and necessary action has to be taken by them.

The letter states that the auditor general of the state government, in their audit, exposed that in a span of four days (May 24-29) in 2010, the school collected Rs 1.45 crore from the parents. When the education department was informed about the collection, they reported the matter to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), who conducted an enquiry.

Thereafter, the EOW officials wrote a letter to the education department that the school had collected the amount illegally. Hence, Sunil Chauhan, deputy director of school education, asked the education inspector to file an FIR against the school administration at Byculla police station under the Prohibition of Capitation Fee Act, 1987.

On May 15, this year, the education director (state) Shridhar Salunkhe instructed a divisional educational officer to file an FIR against the school for collecting capitation fees. Following this, Chauhan wrote to the education inspector of South Mumbai education department to file the FIR against the school.

In return, the education inspector wrote a letter to the senior inspector at Byculla police station to register an FIR against the St Mary’s High School (SSC) for collecting the fees and not returning it despite being asked to return it to the parents within a month.

Education dept says
B Mane, education inspector, South Mumbai, said, “The police officials refused to file an FIR against the school. Hence, we are now taking advice from the legal authorities in our department and we will wait for the reply from director Salunkhe.”

Copspeak
L Mathure, senior inspector at Byculla police station, said, “We received the copy from the BMC education department, and we have informed them that we cannot register an FIR against the school. The education department needs to take action against the school.”

Schoolspeak
Frazer Mascarenhas, spokesperson of St Mary’s High School (SSC) board and principal of St Xavier’s College, Fort, said, “The matter is in the High Court on the de-recognition of the school. Moreover, the school is not aware of the letter sent by the education department to the Byculla police on filing an FIR against the school for collecting any capitation fees. No school authorities were called for any enquiry by the police
station.”

How it all started
The collection of unlawful fees came to light four years ago when a member from the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) filed an RTI enquiring about the structure of fees. Nanasaheb Kute Patil, then a parent and a member of PTA, said, “I want back the money that the school took from me in the form of activity fees, computer fees, PTA membership fees. The school collected this whole amount from the secondary school students. If the concerned authorities fail to take action and if the school doesn’t return my money, then I will seek justice from the court.”  

How it all started
The collection of unlawful fees came to light four years ago when a member from the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) filed an RTI enquiring about the structure of fees. Nanasaheb Kute Patil, then a parent and a member of PTA, said, “I want back the money that the school took from me in the form of activity fees, computer fees, PTA membership fees. The school collected this whole amount from the secondary school students. If the concerned authorities fail to take action and if the school doesn’t return my money, then I will seek justice from the court.”   

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