A publishing house, namely, JR Printing Press, by allegedly using the official website of the education department, has directed the government schools to make the students purchase books issued by the agency.
The printers have also warned the schools of taking the matter to higher authorities if they fail to comply with their order.
As a result, students, being helpless, are buying books by spending a hefty amount of money.
This issue have created a shakeup in the academia. On July 31, the proprietors of the alleged publishing house had asked the school authorities to prescribe a specific book, namely, "Mittal Practical Copies" to students of Class 6 and above for science, mathematics, computer and physical education.
The teachers were told that the publishing house had been given the rights to supply books at competitive rates by director, secondary education, Mohali vide a letter dated August 30, 2012 and by Ropar district education officer-cum- nodal officer vide dated March 15, 2013.
The printers have even twisted the Punjab and Haryana high court orders on a civil writ petition filed by them against the education department which cancelled the work allotted to it to publish note books between September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013.
Although the high court has only issued directions to the principal secretary, education and DPI (secondary) to consider the reply of the publishing house and pass fresh orders in accordance with law, the firm has asked the school heads to abide by the court orders.
Nodal officer Vinod Kumar who is under suspension in the library book and science kit scam, said a committee headed by Garg and constituted by the education minister had allotted the work to the publishing house but the tender was cancelled when their work was found incompetent.
Garg admitted that he had authorised JR Printing Press to publish books but added that no one was forced to buy.
"The court has ordered a review of our decision and the firm has been asked to appear before the principal secretary, education on August 6," said Garg, who also tagged the using of official website by a publishing house to sell their products as "illegal" and said prompt action, would be taken against the accused.
The Government Teachers Union (GTU) has refused to take orders from a private firm. State president, Karnail Singh Sandhu, Hoshiarpur district president Shiv Kumar Sharma and general secretary Amandeep Sharma have asked the department officials to issue directions.
"How can a private company issue instructions to school principals, that too by using our official website? It's unfortunate that the agency has also threatened the school authorities by issuing this order," said Sandhu.
"The government cannot force students to buy books or stationery from a particular firm if it is not sponsored by them. Students are free to buy books from where ever they want," said Amandeep Sharma.
He added that in the wake of the recent book scam, the department had, a few days ago, asked the school heads to make local purchase.
"Students had purchased practical note books in April and it was not possible for them to make new purchases," said Sharma.
Hoshiarpur district education officer (secondary) Sukhwinder Kaur, said she was not aware of any such orders.
"I haven't seen the website for the past two days. I can comment after verifying the matter," Kaur said.