The Delhi High Court (HC) expressed dissatisfaction today, Monday, November 20, regarding the alleged non-utilisation of six newly constructed government school buildings in the city, reports PTI. According to the report, the court urged authorities to act promptly for the benefit of students, emphasising the need to release funds for the buildings.
Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, heading the bench, questioned the government’s inaction, stating, “Why is this happening? Why are these matters coming to court? If there is a financial emergency, tell us. It can’t be that you ignore all this. You are the government, you have to release the funds.”
A PIL filed by NGO Social Jurist claimed that possession of the buildings in Mukundpur, Bakhtawarpur, Lancer Road, Rani Bagh, Rohini, and MS Punjab Khore was delayed due to the city dispensation’s failure to approve the payment of Rs 16.67 crore to the Public Works Department (PWD) over the past two years, states PTI.
The petitioner urged the Delhi government to convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers to approve the dues payment to PWD, facilitating further payment to the contractor.
The court, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, told the Delhi government counsel that the government cannot refuse to release the funds and the buildings, which were stated to be ready for use, cannot remain unutilised.
“How can you have a 100 per cent complete building and (it is) not being used? Education is your priority. Get this done quickly,” the court said.
Delhi government lawyer Santosh Kumar Tripathi cited possible discrepancies with the contractor, but the court urged the government to “look at the bigger picture” in the interest of students and granted it time to state its stand on the petition after issuing notice on it.
“There can be reasons after reasons. You must look at the bigger picture. The school building has to be used. Otherwise we can say that the Delhi government must declare a financial emergency,” it stated.
Advocate Ashok Agarwal argued that the city authorities’ conduct violated the fundamental right to education under the Indian Constitution and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
“Total of 358 additional classrooms have been constructed in six school buildings to hand it over to Delhi Government schools namely, GGSS Mukund Pur, GBSS Bakhtawarpur, S V Lancer Road, GGSSS Rani Bagh, S V CoEd, Sec 7, Rohini, Govt Co-Ed, MS Punjab Khore. However, till date newly constructed school buildings having 358 classrooms have not been handed over to the respective schools because respondent Delhi Government has failed to pay Rs 1667. 20953 lakh to respondent PWD,” the petition, filed through lawyer Kumar Utkarsh, stated.
The matter is scheduled for the next hearing in December.