The Maharashtra government has to decide within four weeks whether to implement the review committee’s suggestion that the fees disbursed for students belonging to scheduled tribes and denotified tribes be increased.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Kathawala asked the government to take the decision while hearing a petition filed by Naresh Gosavi and several other parents claiming that since the government failed to disburse grant to private aided and unaided schools under the free education scheme, their children were not permitted to attend classes.
Government pleader DN Nalavade informed the Bombay high court that the government had realised that the money was not being spent appropriately hence they had frozen all the disbursement to schools.
The government had filed an affidavit last week stating that the bills submitted by schools in Mumbai are comparatively higher than those of 33 districts in the state.
The government learnt of this when a financial irregularity was noticed wherein Rs 45 crore was released by some officials without sanction of the Social Justice Department (SJD).
In February, a committee of four secretaries had been formed to take the take final decision.
Nalavade said the revised proposal had been put up before the cabinet, which will take the decision. Besides, said Nalavade, the present petitioner was not eligible for disbursement.
Chief justice Shah remarked: “We are more worried about the other students as well.”
Gayatri Singh, advocate for the petitioner, argued that Rs 2,204 crore was lying idle with the social welfare department. The government has used around Rs 332 crore meant for the purpose, said Singh.