Published: 24th December 2021
Students, staff stare at uncertain future as this Delhi school is set to be auctioned on January 14. Will Kejriwal intervene?
The school's Governing Body and the Managing Committee had taken a loan of Rs 2 crore from the United Bank of India which has now amounted to Rs 8 crore with interest
The students of a government-aided school in Delhi's Chittaranjan Park or CR Park area might not have a school to go to anymore from January 14. The reason — the school is set to be auctioned for defaulting on loan repayment. The school authorities had availed a loan for Rs 2 crore in 2005, but have defaulted on its payments and the sum payable has amounted to almost Rs 8 crore now. The Students' Federation of India (SFI) has demanded that the Delhi government should look into the issue, the alumni have moved to the Delhi High Court and the parents' body has planned a candlelight vigil, but is there light at the end of the tunnel?
The school's Governing Body and the Managing Committee had taken a loan of Rs 2 crore from the United Bank of India (now under the Punjab National Bank) to build an extension of the existing senior building in 2005, said a teacher who did not wish to be named. "The EMI was being paid till 2009. Then, the Governing Body changed and they said that they did not want to bear a loan that was taken during the tenure of the previous board. By 2012-13, it was declared an NPA (Non-Performing Asset) and the next year, the bank handed it over to ARSEC (India), a recovery agency," said an official privy to the incident.
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ARSEC then moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in 2016 and an auction was declared right then, said sources. But the issues did not stop there. There were questions raised about how the loan was mentioned in the first place on a leased out land. "ARSEC had also said that if 50 per cent of the amount was paid it would stop the auction, then the High Court reduced it to 25 per cent. But the school said they could not pay that either. Then the pandemic struck and this was put on the back burner," said sources.
The DRT has now said that the building will be auctioned and the notice was put up on the gate on December 9. "The undertaking and assurances given by the new management of the (school) were considered in true spirit by this forum. This shows that a lenient view has been taken by this forum but it seems that the (school) is not interested in repaying…Any further opportunity will derail the recovery proceedings and will cause unnecessary delay as nothing concrete has been offered by the (school)," read the DRT order.
The teachers also pointed out that the bid will start from Rs 81 crore and the building is worth Rs 300 crore or more at this point in time. "So what happens to the rest of the money? It's all a puzzle now," said one of the teachers.
This is a grave threat to the students. The school has around 1,200 students and the building that is set to be auctioned houses around 900 of them. These are children in Classes VI to XII and a chunk of them have their Boards coming up. Five students from Class XII have also filed a petition with the Delhi High Court asking for the intervention of the Kejriwal government. "The petitioners are Class XII students and due to appear for their CBSE Board exams in the year 2022. They would be rendered remediless in case the school property is auctioned. As the auction is to be conducted on January 14, it would prejudicially affect the future of about 900 students who are yet to complete their school year," read the petition.
What's the way forward? Teachers said that the only way forward is the legal way out as a court mandate cannot be violated. "We have ex-students fighting for the school as well. And there are petitions being filed with the HC as we speak," said one of the teachers. "The teachers who are appointed in ad hoc positions would also be losing their jobs along with the non-teaching staff. There are no alternative arrangements made for either the students or the staff," informed a statement from the SFI South Delhi Area Committee.