School in Gandhinagar was established in 1909

Preventing the State government’s attempt to close a century old private Kannada medium school situated in the heart of the city on the pretext of “low” number of students, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday described the State’s move akin to cutting off the nose to spite the face.

“The Karnataka Educational Institutions (Recognition of Primary and Secondary Schools) Rules, 1999 does not indicate that a fall in strength of students below minimum, in any given academic year, would entail withdrawal of recognition,” the court declared.

Justice Anand Byrareddy passed the order while allowing a petition filed by the Arya Vidya Shala Parents’ Association, which had questioned the government’s order for closing the Arya Vidya Shala. The school was established in 1909 at Gandhinagar and has been offering education in Kannada medium for students hailing from economically weaker sections of society.

Ordering closure of private schools offering education in Kannada medium would not be in the interest of State when such schools comply all other conditions except minimum student strength, the court said.

Background

After inspecting the school in August 2011, the Block Education Officer recommended transfer of teachers and students to other schools as only 71 students were admitted in the high school. Later, the authorities transferred four teachers whose salary was paid from the aid given by the State. Meanwhile, the school offered to forego the aid and appointed teachers at its cost.

Transfer assets

The government, in September 2011, asked the Arya Vidya Shala Parents’ Association to transfer students as well as the assets to the government while making it clear that around 31 students would not be permitted to take SSLC exams, except as private candidates, if the association failed to obey the government order. However, the students in 2011-12 and 2012-13 were permitted by the High Court to appear for the SSLC exams.

Prime land

Interestingly, the school is situated on a prime land measuring around 7,700 sq yards (1.5 acres), granted by the State in 1939 and 1944 to the association.

And the government contended before the High Court that the association violated the terms of land grant by putting up commercial complex and renting it out to 23 tenants.

The government had also claimed that the Arya Vidya Shala Parents’ Association though is earning huge rent was seeking aid from the State.

However, the High Court did not find any nexus between grant of land and the order of closure.

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