The state government’s decision to discontinue the reimbursement of freeship given to thousands of backward class students has jeopardised their academic pursuits.
Government pleader Dhairyasheel Nalavade on Thursday told the Bombay high court that the state would no longer reimburse school fees of backward class students studying in private unaided schools.
In its meeting held on February 23, the state cabinet had decided to discontinue the freeship being given to scheduled caste, vimukta jati and nomadic tribes (VJNT) and special backward class students studying in private unaided schools. Unable to bear the expenses, most of these underprivileged students have dropped out of school. The court was hearing two petitions — one filed by a Chembur resident Naresh Gosavi and the other by Narayan Guru High School.
While Chembur-based vegetable vendor had moved high court last year after his son and two nephews studying in Chembur English School were forced to discontinue their studies because of non-payment of freeship by the state, the second petitioner, Narayan Guru High School, has also raised the issue of pending dues in its petition.
Nalavade submitted a note of the cabinet decision stating no reimbursement of school fees of these backward class students, who were studying in private unaided schools and schools established under permanent non-grant basis, would be made.
The division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Vazifdar directed state government to explain on affidavit how this decision fits in its policy introduced through concerned Government Resolution (GR) of 1994.
In accordance with the GR, the government was paying Rs294 per student per month in the primary section and Rs348 per student per month in the secondary section.
The judges reminded Nalavade that the government resolution, which introduced the freeship regime for backward class students did not mention of any categorisation, and the government had in fact distributed the amount till April 2007 irrespective of this categorisation — aided and unaided.
The court has given the state government time till Monday to file the affidavit.