Parents want Mohali, Panchkula schools to put balance sheets online
After the Punjab and Haryana high court upheld Chandigarh administration’s law mandating private unaided schools to upload their balance sheets on their websites, the parents of children studying in Panchkula and Mohali are also asking that the schools here follow suit.
The chairman of the Panchkula Parents’ Association, Bharat Bhushan Bansal, said, “In Panchkula, some schools do submit details of their balance sheets to the education department, but we want them to put this information out in public domain. The high court’s decision should also be applicable to schools in the state of Haryana.”
President of the association, Manish Banger, added that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had recently issued instructions regarding mandatory public disclosure by schools on their websites: “We will write to the CBSE authorities soon if these instructions are not followed by the schools here.”
RTE, Haryana Education Act also mandate financial transparency
Explaining the legal angle, advocate Pardeep Rapria, former law officer of the Central Information Commission, said, “In Panchkula, all schools follow the Haryana Education Act, according to which the schools are required to present their balance sheets to the directorate of education for each academic year in a suo-moto manner. However, schools don’t do this. Further, as per Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, they are also required to upload the information online so it is accessible by the people.”
Speaking about this, district education elementary officer, Panchkula, Nirupama said, “We have received no instructions regarding this. Private elementary schools under my charge haven’t uploaded the details online.”
Chandigarh had adopted its rules from the Punjab Regulation of Fee of Unaided Educational Institution Act, 2016, that has a clause of making balance sheets public; the Independent School Association (ISA) had challenged it in their complaint back in 2018.
Clause adopted by UT not applicable in Punjab schools
The Act that is applicable in Punjab, however, doesn’t have this clause, as per advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri, who is representing parents in Punjab over the issue of fee for the academic year 2020-2021.
“The Justice Amar Dutt Committee in 2013 had recommended that all schools upload their balance sheets online, but this clause was not included in the 2016 Act,” said Bagri, adding that the matter of uploading balance sheets during the pandemic by Punjab schools is currently pending in the Supreme Court.
Parents of children studying in Mohali schools are also seeking similar rules. Raman Sidana, who has a son studying in a private school here, said, “Though the classes have gone online, we continue to pay the same fees, which is unjustified. Once the summer vacations are over, parents are sure to object to these.”
Another parent with two children studying in two different private schools in Mohali, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Some protests were organised by parents in the beginning of April, too, in demand for more transparency of finances by the schools. However, schools tried to threaten us and as Covid cases went up, the protests also stopped. We will start again when the situation improves.”
In Chandigarh, while the UT education department will soon start taking action against schools who haven’t uploaded their balance sheets online, the Independent School Association plans to move the Supreme Court.