Principal of Oxford School taking classes in Silchar Collegiate! Guardians call on Ranoj Pegu, civil society to save the school
Silchar Collegiate School continues to be one of the most prestigious institutions in the history of Barak Valley. The school has shaped igniting minds into geniuses who are spread all over the globe handling key responsibilities. The same school has now collapsed like a house of cards. The school administration is nonexistent and the Inspector of Schools is appointing teachers from other schools and institutions to take classes.
At the root of all of this is Mr. Rajib Kumar Dutta who is a guardian of a student and also the petitioner of a case filed at the Gauhati High Court. Some say he is a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too and there are guardians who have heard him say, “Dekhi laimu ei school kemne bondho hoy na.” (Will see how this school continues to operate). While these are allegations pressed by other guardians on Dutta, let’s stick to the facts which are : he is a guardian of a student studying in the school and petitioner in case number WP(C)/1375/2023 at Gauhati High Court where State of Assam, Deputy Commissioner of Cachar and Himasree Deka, Executive Magistrate, Cachar are the respondents.
Court order reveals that Rajib Dutta’s primary reason to go to the court is that on 30.09.2022, it was resolved to nominate him as the President of the reconstituted Managing Committee, by which powers were also granted to the nominated persons in the matter of signing cheques and other financial dealings. However, that resolution was suspended by the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar on 11.10.2022 after he was approached by a set of stakeholders.
Rajib Dutta’s counsel submitted before the justice Lanusungkum Jamir, as the order copy states, “It is stated that the Silchar Collegiate School though a non-Government Educational Institution and amenable to the jurisdiction to the Assam Non-Government Educational Institution (Regulation and Management) Act of 2006 as well as the Assam Non-Government Educational Institution (Regulation and Management) Rules, 2007 and a Society registered under the Societies Act; The Deputy Commissioner, Cachar on 11.10.2022 interfered with the constitution of the Managing Committee of the said non-Government Educational Institution i.e., Silchar Collegiate School in violation of the provisions of said 2006 Act and 2007 Rules, noted above. It is submitted that the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar has no such jurisdiction and authority to interfere with the constitution of any such Managing Committee of a non-Government Educational Institution.”
Justice listed the case on 31.03.2023 and on the said date asked the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar, Silchar respondent No. 2 shall apprise the Court, under what authority and jurisdiction, it exercises its power in constituting a Managing Committee of said Silchar Collegiate School, a non-Government Educational Institution in the District of Cachar. As instructions were not received by the learned Govt. Advocate despite the order dated 15.03.2023, having regard to the provisions of section 20 and 21 of the Assam Non-Government Educational Institutions (Regulation and Management) Act, 2006, the Court is inclined to suspend the operation of the resolution taken up in the minutes of the meeting held on 11.10.2022 at 5 p.m. in the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner, Cachar in connection with issue related to Silchar Collegiate School, Silchar.
Now, what was Deputy Commissioner’s intervention? Following a meeting with the stakeholders, DC Rohan Kumar Jha appointed Executive Magistrate Himasree Deka who is an ACS officer to head the managing committee. It was a temporary resolution till the issues were resolved and a new Managing Committee takes over.
The order copy of Justice Kalyan Rai Surana on March 31, 2023 reads, “By the resolution made in the said meeting (organised by DC), amongst others, all activities relating to the school was ordered to be taken up by the Managing Committee by the respondent no.3 (ACS Himasree Deka who is an ACS officer and serving as an Executive Magistrate, Cachar. The petitioner has referred to the decision taken in the previous Emergent meeting of the Managing Committee of the said Silchar Collegiate School, held on 30.09.2022, whereby it was resolved to nominate the petitioner (Rajib Kumar Dutta) as the President of the reconstituted Managing Committee, by which powers were also granted to the nominated persons in the matter of signing cheques and other financial dealings.”
The justice adds in the order copy, “As instructions were not received by the learned Govt. Advocate despite order dated 15.03.2023, having regard to the provisions of section 20 and 21 of the Assam Non-Government Educational Institutions (Regulation and Management) Act, 2006, the Court is inclined to suspend the operation of the resolution taken up in the minutes of the meeting held on 11.10.2022 at 5 p.m. in the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner, Cachar in connection with issue related to Silchar Collegiate School, Silchar.”
With this order began the long legal tussle of Silchar Collegiate School. The salaries were no longer disbursed, bills were no longer cleared. There no longer existed a managing committee to run things. For the freshers, Silchar Collegiate School, though a private body, does not have a proprietorship. This institution is operated by the managing committee. The operations include the disbursement of salaries, clearance of utility bills, and conducting examinations, among other key aspects. If we rise above the complexities of the court orders, Rajib Dutta’s petition boils down to the authorisation to sign the cheques and how could the Deputy Commissioner intervene and constitute a fresh Managing Committee.
Eventually, due to non-payment of the bills, as there were no signatories, the electricity board disconnected the electric supply and the same was brought to the High Court’s notice. The court ordered, “Accordingly, after hearing the learned counsel for the parties, the Inspector of Schools, Silchar, Cachar District is directed to look into the academic/administrative and financial functioning of the School till the final disposal of this Writ Petition. It is also provided that both the petitioner as well as the respondent shall not function as Managing Committees of the School till the next returnable date. The concerned respondents are directed to file a counter-affidavit in the main writ petition.”
The Inspector of Schools has made a total of seven appointments including the appointment of Sunil Agarwal as Assistant Teachers. One of the guardians speaking with Barak Bulletin said, “Sunil Agarwal is the Principal and one of the owners of Oxford School in Silchar. It is in his best interests to ruin the reputation of Silchar Collegiate School so that the students go and join his school. What is the logic behind such an appointment?”
Another guardian said, “If Rajib Dutta’s problem was the intervention of Deputy Commissioner, how is he happy with the intervention of Inspector of Schools. We firmly believe that he has his vested interest in ruining this school. Also, on Monday, he engaged with other guardians when they requested him to withdraw the case as the school is coming to a halt. He got aggressive and started threatening.”
Helpless with the current scenario, the guardians have started a social media campaign seeking immediate intervention of the civil society to save the school. They have also pleaded for Minister of Education, Ranoj Pegu’s immediate intervention to save the School.