Mateen Hafeez & Vinamrata Borwankar
Mumbai: The anti-corruption bureau (ACB), which trapped the principal and a senior clerk of St Joseph's High School at Agripada for allegedly accepting Rs 2,000 from a parent for handing over an SSC marksheet and a leaving certificate, is probing allegations that the school trust made Rs 40 lakh illegally.
“We have received two letters from parents and the education department alleging that Rs 40 lakh was collected by the school from the students. It's a criminal misconduct, if proved. We are investigating it,“ said Vishwas Nangre Patil, additional commissioner of police, ACB. The ACB on Friday booked principal Sister Lovena Almeida and clerk Victorian Barett under the Prevention of Corruption Act and are seeking legal opinion and permis sion from the education department on their arrest. ACB sources said there were many such complaints from parents.
According to education officials, aided schools cannot charge any fee apart from tuition fee. However, Father George Athaide, secretary of the ABE, which governs the school, blamed the state government. “The government has not given aided schools non-salary grants since 2004. Hence, for amenities such as electricity and infrastructure, the school needs to collect funds and this is done in consultation with the parents. The school managements have also appointed teachers at their own expenses. The government should give the grants or schools will have to function without amenities.“ But Patil said: “Many parents claimed that the school has been charging Rs 2,000 for issuing marksheet and leaving certificate in the name of maintenance. Collecting money in such a way is illegal. Though the school issues receipt of the payment, it surprisingly contains the address of a parent and not that of the school on it. We are trying to establish in whose pocket the money went.“
ACB sources said they were trying to find out whether or not any bank account was maintained for such money . “If the money has been taken for good cause, they should show us,“ said an officer.
The Times of India, June 29, 2014