The Lokayukta on Monday took up a suo motu investigation based on media reports indicating that wealthy parents were grabbing seats meant for poor students under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides that all schools which are not receiving aid from the government are duty-bound to earmark 25 per cent of seat for the lower income sections of society. Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2010, makes it mandatory for parents to produce income certificate to claim seat under the provision. Households with up to Rs 3.5 lakh annual income have been defined as ‘poor’ under the state government’s RTE Rules.
However, this provision was reportedly misused by a few by way of submitting ‘fake income certificates’.
“The Commissioner of Public Instruction has been directed to conduct an inquiry into all such schools and submit an action taken report within six weeks. If he comes to the conclusion that some of the certificates are fake, he is directed to see that such seats are allotted to really poor students, particularly from the lower rung of society,” an order from Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao said.
S R Umashankar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, admitted that there is no mechanism in the Department of Public Instruction to verify documents issued by the Revenue Department. “I am yet to receive communication from the Lokayukta,” he said. When asked if it was too late to reallot RTE seats to deserving children as suggested by the Lokayukta, Umashankar said: “I need to go through the directions to see whether we can actually comply with them.”
Reports in a section of the press quoting Shivarame Gowda, president of the Karnataka Private Schools Joint Action Committee, said over 40 per cent of the applications received by various schools in the state had fake income certificates attached.
Out of 1.08 lakh RTE seats in the state, Bangalore North has 12,352 seats, Bangalore South has 16,619 and Bangalore Rural has 1,978. The officials are yet to the compile exact number of seats filled under the category.
Govinda Raju, whose daughter has joined a private school in Goraguntepalya, said he had to run around two schools despite having genuine documents. “Parents have to realise that one needs to deserve an RTE seat and not acquire one through illegal means,” he said.