Published: 04th September 2021
AP High Court pulls up the government over issues in reimbursement of fee under Vidya Deevena
The scheme which reimburses underprivileged students of their college fee was a much touted promise of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government
The Andhra Pradesh state government's Jagananna Vidya Deevena scheme has run into some rough waters with the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday cancelling the GO 28 issued by the State government in June, 2020 and directed the government to credit the fee reimbursement amount under the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme and post-matric scholarships to bank accounts of respective colleges instead of accounts of the mothers of beneficiaries.
The scheme which reimburses underprivileged students of their college fee was a much touted promise of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. Committees at state and district levels had been constituted by the government to ensure the implementation. However, the scheme had run into issues amidst claims that the amount that was being transferred to the mothers of the students wasn't being deposited into the college's bank accounts and was instead being spent on other expenses.
Delivering the verdict on petitions challenging the GO, Justice K Vijaya Lakshmi abolished all the clauses in the GO 64 issued on November 6, 2020, which states that the government cannot be held accountable if the fee reimbursement amount is not paid by the beneficiary’s mother to the college.
The fee reimbursement amount and post-matric scholarships were already credited to the accounts of mothers of beneficiaries. If the amount is not paid to the college, it needs to be collected from the students by the college management itself, the court said.
Presenting his arguments, petitioners’ counsel M Vijayakumar said crediting of the fee reimbursement amount under the Jagananna Vidya Deevena scheme and post- matric scholarships to the accounts of the mothers of beneficiaries was causing several problems.
As a majority of the mothers of beneficiaries in rural areas are illiterate, they were using the amount for other purposes without paying the fee to respective colleges. Further, the State government had shunned its responsibility by issuing the GO 64, he pointed out and said because of the two GOs, the very purpose of the fee reimbursement scheme was getting defeated.
He submitted particulars of the colleges, which were not paid the fee reimbursement amount by the mothers of beneficiaries, after the government credited the funds to their accounts.Putting forth his arguments, the government pleader explained the objective of crediting the fee reimbursement amount and post-matric scholarships to the accounts of beneficiaries’ mothers as it was only meant to enable them confront the college managements in case adequate facilities and quality education were not provided and it was also part of empowerment of women.
After hearing arguments of both sides, Justice Vijaya Lakshmi observed that 40 per cent of students had not remitted their fee at the time of college admissions. As per the GOs, colleges could not pressurise them to pay fee and if their mothers fail to pay it and the government could not be held responsible. It leads to the students discontinuing their studies and college seats go waste, the Judge observed.
If the government reimburses the amount directly into bank accounts of the colleges, chances of students discontinuing the course are very marginal, Justice Vijaya Lakshmi said, adding that crediting of fee reimbursement amount to accounts of the mothers of beneficiaries was not providing a guarantee for continuation of students’ college education.
Two GOs related to Vidya Deevena cancelled
The AP High Court cancelled the GO 28 issued by the State government in June, 2020 to credit the fee reimbursement amount under the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme to bank accounts of mothers of beneficiaries. All clauses of the GO 64 issued on November 6, 2020 were also abolished