The 875 students studying in primary and secondary sections of Gokhale Rahalkar School at Ambernath are no longer required to attend classes outside the school building, which was sealed for recovery of outstanding dues of a bank.
Shishu Vikas Sanstha, which runs the school, can now reopen the building to conduct classes, as the Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the recovery officer of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Mumbai, to remove the seal put on the school building and allow classes to be conducted inside the building.
The court ordered removal of the seal primarily in view of the facts that the students are compelled to attend classes in open space and that the school management was willing to pay an amount of Rs. 16 lakh immediately to the bank.
The division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Anoop Mohta was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by two locals —Swapnil Bagul and Yogesh Patil. The PIL stated the school management had taken a loan of Rs7 lakh from the bank in 1999 for reconstruction of its dilapidated building.
However, as the school did not receive any non-salary grant from the state during the last 12 years, it could not repay the loan amount. In October 2007, the bank moved the DRT for recovery of the outstanding amount of Rs18.61 lakh.
The petitioners’ counsel Tony Sachdevani said the recovery officer sealed the school building on November 12, when the school was closed for Diwali. On November 26, when schools in the state re-opened, the students of Gokhale Rahalkar School found their school building locked and sealed. Since then, classes are being conducted in the open space outside the building, which could hamper the education of the students, he contended.
The court has directed the trust to state on the next date of hearing —December 17—when the management will repay the balance outstanding amount.