Andhra Pradesh

Govt. plan to take over aided institutions hits rough weather

The government’s decision to take over the willing private aided schools and colleges, including minority institutions, has run into legal trouble with a large number of aided school managements challenging the decision in court.

In an order issued last month, the Principal Secretary, School Education, B. Rajasekhar said the State would take over aided schools, both managements and assets (movable and immovable) without paying any compensation through an irrevocable and unconditional registered deed, based on the willingness of the managements.

The government’s contention that despite extending the benefits of the majority of the government schemes to the aided institutions, the enrolments have been on the decline and that a few aided institutions were not in a position to run due to poor student strength and high operational costs, has been denied by members of the State Aided School Managements’ Association.

While the government officials claim that only schools whose managements are willing to surrender staff and assets are being taken over, the latter allege ‘arm-twisting’ tactics by the authorities. “Inspections were carried out on schools where the managements were unwilling to surrender their institutions,” says the headmaster of an aided school in One Town here, adding that those who have surrendered, have done it due to panic.

“If there is no threat involved, why are these aided managements rushing to court?” asks advocate M. Srivijay, who is representing the petitioners in the High Court.

Origin of the problem

The existence of aided schools dates back to the British rule. The aided schools and colleges have produced eminent personalities in the 70s and the 80s when there were no post-graduate colleges around. “Now, with a stroke, the government is out to ruin the entire ecosystem of aided institutions,” laments a representative of an aided management.

The association leaders trace their woes to 2004 when the government issued orders imposing a ban on appointment and promotions of staff in aided schools, which was challenged by the managements. After a prolonged legal battle, the court in 2013 quashed the government decision terming it ‘unconstitutional and illegal’. The case went to the Supreme Court.

The leaders allege that the move is intended to avoid the financial burden the government will have to bear on account of recruitment of teachers and release of maintenance grants, stopped for many years in ‘violation’ of the rule which says that the management grant should be released at the rate of 6% of the staff salaries of that particular institution.

The government issued memos on the ‘takeover’ in 2019, 2020 and in March of 2021 calling for willingness of the managements but all of them were struck down by the court.

‘Collective takeover’

Mr. Srivijay says the ordinance and the G.O. No. 50 brought by the government proposing ‘collective’ takeover of aided schools across the State violate Sections 46 and 60 of the AP Education Act, 1982 which says if any aided institution becomes defunct, the government can issue a notice giving one month time and thereafter can take control of it. “There is no provision for the State to take over all the institutions in the State,” he says.

MLCs from teachers’ constituencies are opposed to the State takeover of schools and colleges established by freedom fighters and philanthropists, while the petitioners see it as an ‘attempt to usurp properties worth around ₹16,000 crore’.

Referring to the subsection the government added in Section 46 of the AP Education Act, Mr. Srivijay says it is not tenable as any amendment is possible only with the consent of the Central government.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:41:01 PM |

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