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Friday, February 8, 2013

General Education Department of the State of Kerala= students bogus recordical admissions. - whether the High Court was justified in directing the Secretary, General Education Department of the State of Kerala to get the verification of the actual students’ strength in all the aided schools in the State with the assistance of the police and to take appropriate action.- A great responsibility is, therefore, cast on the General Education Department to curb such menace which not only burden the State exchequer but also will give a wrong signal to the society at large. The Management and the Headmaster of the school should be a role model to the young students studying in their schools and if themselves indulge in such bogus admissions and record wrong attendance of students for unlawful gain, how they can imbibe the guidelines of honesty, truth and values in life to the students. We are, however, of the view that the investigation by the police with regard to the verification of the school admission, register etc., particularly with regard to the admissions of the students in the aided schools will give a wrong signal even to the students studying in the school and the presence of the police itself is not conducive to the academic atmosphere of the schools. In such circumstances, we are inclined to set aside the directions given by the Division Bench for police intervention for verification of the students’ strength in all the aided schools. 18. We are, however, inclined to give a direction to the Education Department, State of Kerala to forthwith give effect to a circular dated 12.10.2011 to issue UID Card to all the school children and follow the guidelines and directions contained in their circular. Needless to say, the Government can always adopt, in future, better scientific methods to curb such types of bogus admissions in various aided schools. 19. We, however, find no reason to interfere with the direction given by the DPI to take further action to fix the liabilities for the irregularity committed in the school for the years 2008-09 and 2009-10, for which the appeal is pending before the State Government. The State Government will consider the appeal and take appropriate decision in accordance with law, if it is still pending. Appeal is allowed as above without any order as to costs.


                                                                  Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                   CIVIL APPEAL NO. 958           OF 2013
                   (Arising out of SLP(C) No.9162 of 2011)

State of Kerala and others                              ….. Appellants

                                   Versus


President, Parent Teacher Assn. SNVUP and others  … Respondents


                               J U D G M E N T




K.S. Radhakrishnan, J.


1.    Leave granted.



2.    We are in this appeal concerned with the  question
 whether  the  High
Court  was  justified  in  directing  the   Secretary,   General   Education
Department of the State of Kerala to get  the  verification  of  the  actual
students’  strength  in  all  the  aided  schools  in  the  State  with  the
assistance of the police and to take appropriate action.



3.    The Assistant Educational Officer (AEO), Valappad had fixed the  staff
strength of S.N.V.U.P. School, Thalikulam for the year 2008-09 based on  the
visit report of High School Association (SS), GHS Kodakara as  per  Rule  12
of Chapter XXIII of  Kerala  Education  Rules  (KER).   Later,  based  on  a
complaint regarding bogus admissions and irregular  fixation  of  staff  for
the year  2008-09  by  the  AEO,  the  Super  Check  Cell,  Malabar  Region,
Kozhikode made a surprise visit in the school on 17.09.2008  and  physically
verified the  strength  of  the  students  and  noticed  undue  shortage  of
attendance on that day.  The strength verified by the Super Check  Cell  was
not sufficient for allowing the divisions and posts sanctioned by  the  AEO.
The Head  Master  of  the  School,  however,  stated  in  writing  that  the
shortfall of attendance on the day of inspection was due to “Badar  Day”  of
Muslim community and due to distribution of rice  consequent  to  that.   In
order to confirm the genuineness of the facts stated  by  the  Head  Master,
the Cell again visited the school on 16.12.2008.  Verification could not  be
done on that day, hence the Cell again visited the school on 02.02.2009  and
physically verified the students’ strength.  On that day  also,  there  were
large number of absentees as noticed  on  17.09.2008.   On  verification  of
attendance register, it was found that  the  class  teachers  of  respective
classes had given bogus presence to all students on  almost  all  the  days.
Enquiry  revealed  that  the  school  authorities  had  obtained  the  staff
fixation order for the year 2008-09 through bogus recordical admissions.



4.     The  Director  of  Public  Instructions   (DPI),   Thiruvananthapuram
consequently issued a notice dated 07.05.2009 to the Manager of  the  School
of his proposal to revise roll strength and revision of  staff  strength  by
reducing one division each in Std. I, II, IV to VII and 2 divisions in  Std.
III and consequent posts of 5 LPSAs, 3 UPSAs in the school during  the  year
2008-09.   The  Manager  of  the  school  responded  to  the   notice   vide
representation dated 27.05.2009 stating that Super Check Officials  did  not
record the attendance particulars of the students in the  visit  record  and
had tampered with the attendance register.  The  Manager  had  also  pointed
out that the Headmaster was not responsible to compensate the loss  suffered
by the Department by way of paying salary to the teachers who had worked  in
the sanctioned posts.  Further, it was  also  pointed  out  that  the  staff
fixation should not be done within the academic  year  and  re-fixation  was
not permissible as per Rule 12E(3) read with Rule 16 of Chapter  XXIII,  KER
and requested not to reduce the class divisions.



5.    The DPI elaborately heard the lawyers  appearing  for  the  Headmaster
and the Manager of the school, affected teachers as well  as  the  officials
of the Super Check Cell.  Having heard the  submissions  made  and  perusing
the records made available, the DPI found that the  staff  fixation  of  the
school for the year  2008-09  was  obtained  through  bogus  admissions  and
misrepresentation of facts.  DPI noticed that the roll strength  during  the
year 2008-09 was 1196.  There were 404 absentees on the first visit  of  the
Cell on 17.09.2008.  The Super  Check  Cell  again  visited  the  school  on
16.12.2008 and 02.02.2009 and it was found that among  404  students  absent
on the first day, 179  names  were  bogus  and  irregular  retentions.   The
physical presence of 179 students could not be verified  on  all  the  three
occasions.  DPI, therefore, passed an order revising the staff  fixation  of
the school for the year 2008-09 as per Rule  12(3)  read  with  Rule  16  of
Chapter XXIII of KER.  Consequently, the total number of  divisions  in  the
school was reduced to 23 from 31.  In the Order dated  08.09.2009,  the  DIP
had stated as follows:



        “The Headmaster is responsible for  the  admission,  removals,  and
        maintenance  of  records  and  for  the  supervision  of  work   of
        subordinates.  It is the duty of the verification officer to verify
        the strength correctly and to unearth the irregularities.   Due  to
        the irregular fixation of staff, the State exchequer  has  incurred
        additional and unnecessary expenditure by way of pay and allowances
        for 8 teachers and expenditure incurred in connection with  payment
        of various scholarships, lump-sum grant, noon-feeding,  free  books
        etc to the bogus students.  These loss sustained to the  Government
        will be recovered from the Headmaster of the school  who  alone  is
        responsible for all the above irregularities.”





6.    The DPI also directed to take further action to  fix  the  liabilities
and recover the amount from the Headmaster under intimation to DPI  and  the
Super Check Officer, Kozhikode.  The Headmaster and Manager of  the  school,
aggrieved by the above-mentioned order, filed  a  revision  petition  before
the State Government.  The High Court vide its judgment dated  7.12.2009  in
Writ Petition (C) No.  35135  of  2009  directed  the  State  Government  to
dispose of the revision petition.



7.    The higher level verification was also conducted in  the  school  with
regard to the staff fixation for the year 2009-10 and  on  verification,  it
was found that many of the students in the school records  were  only  bogus
recordical admissions.  Following that, the AEO issued staff fixation  order
for the year 2009-10 vide proceedings dated 27.03.2010.



8.     Meanwhile,  the  President  of  the   Parent   Teachers   Association
(Respondent No.1 herein) filed WP (C) No. 12285  of  2010  before  the  High
Court seeking a direction to the AEO to reckon the entire  students  present
in the school on the 6th  working  day  and  higher  level  verification  of
District Education Officer (DEO) on 13.01.2010  for  the  purpose  of  staff
fixation for the year 2009-10 and also for a declaration that the  exclusion
of the students who were present on the day of higher level verification  on
13.01.2010 from the staff fixation order 2009-10 was illegal  and  also  for
other consequential reliefs.



9.    Learned Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the Writ Petition  on
07.04.2010 stating that  the  Parent  Teachers  Association  have  no  locus
standi  in  challenging  the  staff  fixation  order.   The   judgment   was
challenged in  W.A  No.1195  of  2010  by  the  President,  Parent  Teachers
Association before the Division Bench  of  the  High  Court  and  the  Bench
passed an interim order on 14.07.2010.  The operative portion  of  the  same
reads as follows:-



        “The inspection team has recorded that  as  many  as  179  students
        whose  names  and  particulars  are  furnished,   represent   bogus
        admissions  for  record  purposes.   If   admission   register   is
        manipulated by recording bogus  admissions  in  the  name  of  non-
        existing students  or  students  of  other  institutions,  we  fell
        criminal action also is called for against the school  authorities.
        Since appellant has denied the findings in the  inspection  report,
        we fell a police enquiry is called for  the  in  the  matter.   We,
        therefore,  direct  the  Superintendent  of  Police,  Thrissur   to
        constitute a team of Police Officers to go through  Ext.P1,  verify
        the registered maintained  by  the  school  authorities,  take  the
        addresses as shown in the school records and conduct field  enquiry
        as to whether the students are real persons and if so, whether they
        are really studying in this school or elsewhere.  In  other  words,
        the result of the enquiry is to confirm to this court  whether  the
        students whose names are in the record of the school are  real  and
        if so, whether they are  students  in  this  school  or  any  other
        school.”



The Bench also directed to  the  Superintendent  of  Police  to  submit  his
report within one month.



10.   The Superintendent of Police, following the  direction  given  by  the
High Court, constituted a team under the leadership of the Circle  Inspector
of Police, Valappad and the team conducted detailed enquiry  in  respect  of
all the matters directed to be examined by the police.   The  Superintendent
of Police submitted the report dated 20.09.2010 which reads as follows:



        “On the enquiry about the 187 students (179+8) which  were  alleged
        as bogus admissions as per Ext.P1, it  is  revealed  that  only  72
        students were studied in S.N.V.U.P. School during the period  2008-
        09 and 80  students  were  studied  in  some  other  schools.   The
        addresses of 23 students have not been traced  out  even  with  the
        help of postman of the concerned area.  On the enquiry it  is  also
        revealed that 4 students vide  the  admission  Nos.  13008,  11875,
        12883 and 13876 mentioned in Ext.P1, have not been studied anywhere
        during that period.




        The details of the  187  students,  revealed  in  the  enquiry  are
        mentioned below:-

        1. Actual No. of students studied in SNVUP
        School, Thalikulam during 2008-2009            72


        2. No. of Students studied in some other schools     80


        3. No. of students whose address
           have not been trace out                           23


        4. No. of students have not been studied
        anywhere                                       04


        5. No. of students removed from the rolls.
        Immediately after strength inspection                         08

                                                  -----
                    Total                                     187
                                                              -----

        The report of the enquiry, submitted by  the  Circle  Inspector  of
        Police, Valappad showing the  details  of  each  students  is  also
        produced herewith.”







11.   The Division Bench  of  the  High  Court  after  perusing  the  report
submitted by the Superintendent of Police found that neither the finding  of
the DPI based on inspections by Super  Check  Cell  nor  the  claim  of  the
Parent Teachers Association was correct since the police had found  that  at
least 72 out of 187 students declared bogus by the DPI  were  real  students
of the school.  The High Court, therefore,  concluded  manipulation  by  the
school management was obvious, though not to the extent found by  the  Super
Check Cell based on which DPI had passed the impugned order.   The  Division
Bench expressed  anguish  that  the  management  had  included  80  students
studying in other schools as students of the present school.   It  was  also
noticed that as many as 23 students could not be traced by the  police  with
the help of the postman, were also included in the register.



12.   The Division Bench concluded that since  the  Super  Check  Cell,  the
Education Department lacked the investigating  skill  or  the  authority  to
collect information from  the  field,  it  would  be  appropriate  that  the
verification of actual students in all the aided schools in the State  would
be done through the police.  Holding so, the High Court gave  the  following
direction:



        “We, therefore, feel as in this case Police should be entrusted  to
        assist the Education Department by  conducting  enquiry  about  the
        actual and real students studying in  every  aided  school  in  the
        State and pass on the same to the Education Department for them  to
        fix or re-fix the staff strength based on the data furnished by the
        Police.   We,  therefore,  direct  the  Secretary,  Department   of
        Education, to get verification of the actual students  studying  in
        all the  aided  schools  in  the  State  done  through  the  police
        authorities and take appropriate action.  It would be open  to  the
        Government to  consider  photo  or  finger  identification  of  the
        students for avoiding manipulation in the  school  registers.   The
        Government is directed to complete the process by the end  of  this
        academic year and file a report in this court.”






13.   The State of Kerala, aggrieved by the various directions given by  the
Division Bench, has preferred this appeal.  Ms. Liz Mathew, learned  counsel
appearing for the State of Kerala submitted that  the  High  Court  was  not
justified in giving a direction to the Secretary,  Education  Department  in
entrusting the task to State Police for  verification  of  actual  students’
strength in all the aided schools, while the enquiry is being  conducted  by
the Education Department.   Learned counsel submitted that Kerala  Education
Act and Rules did not prescribe any mechanism for  conducting  enquiries  by
the police at the time of staff fixation.  The method to be adopted  in  the
fixation of staff in various schools is prescribed under  Chapter  XXIII  of
KER and police have no role.  The Rules empower the AEO,  the  DEO  and  the
Super Check Cell etc. to conduct enquiries but not by the  police.   Learned
counsel also pointed out that the presence of the police  personnel  in  the
aided schools in the States  would  not  only  cause  embarrassment  to  the
students studying in the school but would also cast wrong impression on  the
minds of the students about the conduct of their  Headmaster,  teachers  and
staff of the school.



14.   We notice that the State itself had  admitted  in  the  petition  that
there should be a better mechanism to ascertain the number  of  students  in
the aided schools which could be  done  by  finger  printing  or  any  other
modern system so that the students could be properly  identified  and  staff
fixation could be done on  the  basis  of  relevant  data.   We,  therefore,
directed the State to evolve a better mechanism to overcome situations  like
the one which has occurred in the school.   Fact  finding  authorities  have
categorically found that the school authorities had  made  bogus  admissions
and made wrong recording of  attendance  which  led  to  the  irregular  and
illegal fixation of staff strength of the school for the years  2008-09  and
2009-10.



15.   An additional affidavit has been filed by the State of Kerala  stating
that the Government  after  much  thought  and  deliberations  formulated  a
scientific method to resolve the issue emanating from staff fixation  orders
every year.  The affidavit says that the number of students  in  the  school
can be determined through Unique Identification Card  (UID)  technology  and
the number of divisions could be arrived at on the basis  of  revised  pupil
teacher ratio.  Further, it is also pointed out  that  after  implementation
of UID as a part of scientific  package,  the  government  will  remand  the
matter of identification of bogus  admission  to  the  DPI  for  considering
issues afresh after corroborating the findings of Super Check Cell with  UID
details of the students.  The State  has  issued  a  circular  No.  NEP  (3)
66183/2011 dated 12.10.2011 which, according to the State, would  take  care
of such situations happening in various aided schools in the State.



16.   We are of the view even though the Division Bench  was  not  justified
in directing police intervention, the situation that has  unfolded  in  this
case is the one that we get in many aided schools in  the  State.  
 Many  of
the aided schools in the State, though not all, obtain staff fixation  order
through bogus  admissions  and  misrepresentation  of  facts.   
Due  to  the
irregular fixation of staff, the  State  exchequer  incurs  heavy  financial
burden by way of pay and allowances.  
The State has also  to  expend  public
money in connection with  the  payment  of  various  scholarships,  lump-sum
grant, noon-feeding, free books etc. to the bogus students.



17.   A great responsibility is, therefore, cast on  the  General  Education
Department to curb such menace which not only  burden  the  State  exchequer
but also will give a wrong signal to the society at large.  
 The  Management
and the Headmaster of the school  should  be  a  role  model  to  the  young
students studying in their schools and if themselves indulge in  such  bogus
admissions and record wrong attendance of students for  unlawful  gain,  how
they can imbibe the guidelines of honesty, truth and values in life  to  the
students.    
We are, however, of the view  that  the  investigation  by  the
police with regard to the verification of  the  school  admission,  register
etc., particularly with regard to the admissions  of  the  students  in  the
aided schools will give a wrong signal even to the students studying in  the
school and the presence of  the  police  itself  is  not  conducive  to  the
academic atmosphere of the schools.  
In such circumstances, we are  inclined
to set  aside  the  directions  given  by  the  Division  Bench  for  police
intervention for verification of the students’ strength  in  all  the  aided
schools.



18.   We are, however,  inclined  to  give  a  direction  to  the  Education
Department, State of Kerala to forthwith give effect  to  a  circular  dated
12.10.2011 to issue UID Card to all  the  school  children  and  follow  the
guidelines and directions contained in their  circular.   Needless  to  say,
the Government can always adopt, in future,  better  scientific  methods  to
curb such types of bogus admissions in various aided schools.



19.   We, however, find no reason to interfere with the direction  given  by
the DPI to take further action to fix the liabilities for  the  irregularity
committed in the school for the years 2008-09 and  2009-10,  for  which  the
appeal is pending before the State Government.  The  State  Government  will
consider the appeal and take appropriate decision in  accordance  with  law,
if it is still pending.  Appeal is allowed as above without any order as  to
costs.







                                             ………………………….J.
                                             (K.S. Radhakrishnan)




                                             ………………………….J.
                                             (Dipak Misra)

New Delhi,

February 6, 2013







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