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Mumbai: More trouble for ISKCON trust school

Updated on: 11 July,2023 07:57 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Inspection and inquiry into trust’s accounts and dealings; school management summoned for hearing at education minister’s office

Mumbai: More trouble for ISKCON trust school

Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School, Andheri West. File Pic/Anurag Ahire

There is more trouble brewing for Andheri's Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School (ICSE), managed by the ISKCON trust. The school’s management and education officials have been summoned by the state education minister’s office for a hearing on July 13 regarding complaints against the school. Following complaints by a parent, the Public Trusts Registration Office, Greater Mumbai, will be conducting an inspection audit and inquiry of the ISKCON trust, which runs the school. The inspection will be conducted on July 11.

The school had been accused of forcing parents to buy uniforms from a select dealer/vendor for years, violating a government resolution and RTE norms. With the management refusing to mend its ways despite repeated complaints, the Mumbai school education deputy director had written to the state government requesting it to withdraw its no-objection certificate (NOC) for affiliation. mid-day reported the issue in its June 9 edition.

The state education minister's office will conduct a hearing, which is likely to ascertain the school’s fate. Schools of non-state boards need the state government’s NOC for affiliation. Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School in Andheri West has ICSE affiliation, which it could lose if the state withdraws the NOC. Apart from making allegations about forcing parents to buy uniforms from a select dealer, the complainant, Suhas Zhambare, also told the education minister and Public Trusts Registration Office that the management had misappropriated funds.

The letter by the inspector, Public Trusts Registration Office, Greater Mumbai, dated July 3, to the president of ISKCON trust reads: “In exercise of the powers vested in the inspector under Section 37 of the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1950, I undersigned propose to take inspection of the above referred trust (ISKCON trust) on July 11 at 10.30 am. You are therefore requested to remain present in person on the aforesaid and prescribed time at the office and bring the following trust records for the last three years for my inspection.” mid-day is in possession of the letter.

According to Zhambare, there is a falsification of accounts in school audit reports. “The balance sheets show interest-free loans every year to the ISKCON trust, school principal etc. It also shows R9 lakh per month as school rent for several years. However, the school land is a gifted land, as per the gift deed signed by ISKCON Juhu President Brij Hari Prabhu. And how can the school fees paid by parents be used for interest-free loans? Also, during the pandemic, the school management said the balance sheet was negative as they were facing losses. We demand an explanation for this,” he said.

“Profiting is not allowed and if there are surplus funds, they can only be used for the school’s development and welfare of students, not to obtain interest-free loans to the trust/principal. We do not want the school to shut down. We love the school, and the teachers are also very good. But those responsible for this corruption need to be punished,” added Zhambare.

The inspector has asked the trust president to submit the minutes book, cashbook, voucher and chequebooks, bank passbook, etc. Besides this, the trust has been asked to submit its ledger, receipt books and register of movable and immovable properties, audited statement of accounts for the last three years, a list showing names, addresses and telephone numbers of members of the present managing committee/present trustees, membership register, a copy of the trust deed/memorandum of association and rules and regulations, along with up-to-date copies of change reports filed to the office.

Meanwhile, Zhambare also accused education department officials of supporting the school by giving them RTE approval. “The school had no RTE recognition from 2016 to 2022. Despite that, it was never penalised as per RTE rules. If that was not enough, on recommendation by the education inspector of West Zone, the BMC education department approved their RTE recognition for the next six years. Now that I have complained about this to the minister and the matter will be heard, the education inspector and BMC education officials are blaming each other,” Zhambare said.

When contacted, Ajit Thorat, inspector at the Public Trusts Registration Office, Greater Mumbai, confirmed that an inspection and inquiry into the matter would be conducted. Braj Hari Das Prabhuji, president of ISKCON trust and Kapila Prabhuji (trustee), could not be reached. A senior school official confirmed that they have received a letter for a hearing at the school education minister’s office on July 13, but refused to comment on the issue.

6 yrs
Time school allegedly functioned without RTE approval

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