13 Sep 2023 9:21 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court today hauled up the board and trustees of St Augustine’s Day School, Kolkata for allegedly misrepresenting itself as a school affiliated to the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (“ICSE”).A single-bench of Justice Biswajit Basu was hearing a plea filed by guardians of 76 students complaining that their wards, studying in class 10, had not...
The Calcutta High Court today hauled up the board and trustees of St Augustine’s Day School, Kolkata for allegedly misrepresenting itself as a school affiliated to the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (“ICSE”).
A single-bench of Justice Biswajit Basu was hearing a plea filed by guardians of 76 students complaining that their wards, studying in class 10, had not been registered for the board exams to be held in 2024.
Upon hearing this, the Court orally remarked,
“You [School] have put your Council registration number in mark sheets of class 9 and 10 students…how is this possible? You have been de affiliated since 2022. I am concerned only about the students, I will not hear you blaming the Council…who has taken this decision to admit students while misrepresenting affiliation? This is a criminal offence, a FIR will have to be registered…I will protect the students, but this matter will not end here. All the board and trustees will face consequences. You are playing with the future of these students…not just the 76 before me…but all…why should these innocent children have to suffer? Why should they have to approach court?”
It was submitted by the petitioners, represented by senior advocate Kalyan Bandopahdyay that the school had admitted students in class 9 and 10, despite knowing that it was not affiliated with the ICSE board, under the guise that the students would be able to appear for board exams in 2024.
Counsel submitted that the school had committed a criminal breach of trust, and that the parents of the helpless students were suffering from sleepless nights, and the students who were innocent parties to the entire chain of events, were those who stood to be the most disadvantaged.
School’s counsel argue that it was an eminent school, with 73-year old history, and had been affiliated to the ICSE board from 1978 getting continuous renewals. It was argued that the Council had told the school that it would renew its affiliation in due course, and that on that basis, the school made provisional admissions to class 9 and 10.
Counsel prayed for students to be allowed to sit for the board exam, and communicated that the school would consent to their registration for the 2024 board exams.
In taking exception to these submissions, the Court remarked:
“The school's consent matters for nothing…you will face the consequences for this…you have already deprived students from sitting for the exams…produce every member of the schools governing society before me.”
Counsel for the ICSE board submitted that the school had been de-affiliated in 2022 due to several concerns which arose during the course of a routine inspection, along the lines of inadequate infrastructure and buildings exhibited by the school.
It was submitted that the building where the school was being run did not have a clearance certificate by the KMC, and that the same was a criminal offence, being committed in the heart of the city, while inviting students to attend classes in a potentially dangerous building with cracked walls and leaky roofs.
It was argued that the ICSE board had sent several written communications to the school directing them to cease admitting students in class 9 and 10 in light of its affiliation being suspended, and that provisionally admitting students would be a breach of the Councils regulations.
Council had clearly communicated to the school that the students due to write board exams in 2023 would be allowed to do so, but in light of suspension of affiliation in 2022, students appearing for boards in 2024 could not be registered.
It was argued that in spite of the clear communication, the school had failed to inform the guardians of the students it had admitted, that it was no longer affiliated to the council, thereby committing criminal breach of trust.
Advocate for the Council admitted that the students should not suffer and that on humanitarian grounds they shall be allowed to appear in board exams as a part of affiliated other schools, and prayed for a direction of the Court to that effect.
In hearing the submissions of all parties, the Court was of the opinion that the present dispute would need to be resolved in a way that is not harmful for the innocent students, and that those who were involved in such illegal actions would need to be brought to task.
Accordingly, in order to ascertain the status of students scheduled to appear for board exams in 2024 from the particular school, the Court appointed DSG-I Billwadal Bhattacharya as a special officer, to peruse through the records of the school and ascertain details of admissions of all students in class 9 and 10, who were due to appear for board exams.
Matter has been listed for further hearing on 21st September.
Case: Swarup Poddar And Ors Vs Council For The Indian School Certificate Examination And Ors
Case No: WPA 22094/2023