Centre accused of wanton spending

Centre accused of wanton spending

School set up by babus wives gets huge grants

The society, headed by the wife of the Cabinet Secretary as ex-officio President, was given more than 10 acres of land in Chanakyapuri in posh central Delhi by the government at a throw-away price for the establishment of the school in 1995.

The Delhi High Court  directed the Centre to explain the reasons why funds are given to Sanskriti School, run by spouses of top bureaucrats for their children.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah asked the government to state why the school gets Central funding even though it did not provide education to students of economically weaker sections of society.

“The husbands prepare notes for grant of fund to the school run by their wives and the cabinet approves the plan,” the bench said and sought a reply by November 18.
The Centre in an affidavit had said Rs 5 crore was given for the establishment of the school in 1995. The school admitted that Rs 2 crore and Rs 3 crore in 1995-96 and 1996-97 respectively had been sanctioned by Director, Department of School Education and Literacy for the construction of the buildings. Apart from the grants from the Centre, many public sector units and Ministry of Railways had also given grants of crores of rupees to the school from their contingency funds. On June 21, 1995, while considering a proposal of the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), the government decided to set up the school for the children of the transferable officials in the country, said the affidavit. 

Taking suo motu cognisance of a newspaper report in 2006, the High Court issued notices to the government and the school.

The newspaper said the government was planning to sanction another grant of about Rs 5 crore to the school for its expansion that would include facilities for horse riding, big auditorium, big swimming pool etc.

Capital expenses

Rejecting the arguments that the grant of Rs 5 crore extended to Sanskriti School was towards capital expenses, the High Court asserted that government resources should be made available firstly to the weaker sections of society.

On the question of providing education to the poor students, school Principal Gauri Ishwaran had submitted that no sufficient children from the weaker sections of the society came forward for admission to the school. It is mandatory in the capital for the schools having government land to provide free education to at least 25 percent of children from weaker section of the society.

Earlier, senior counsel Arun Jaitley, now leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, appearing for the school had submitted that the Court could not review the budgetary provisions for the school passed by Parliament.  “Can a court examine the budgetary provision of grant by Parliament?” he asked. The High Court brushed aside the argument and sought a reply from the Centre for spending such huge amounts on a single school.