THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Government, which allegedly succumbed to pulls and pressures from various quarters in the sanctioning of Higher Secondary batches, finally had to pay the price with the High Court rejecting those batches which were reportedly introduced through the back door.
According to a top official of the General Education Department, out of the 700 new batches that were sanctioned recently, 86 were ‘’introduced’’ by a Cabinet sub-committee, allegedly in violation of norms. This, despite a six-member team headed by the Director of Higher Secondary Education, recommending creation of only 640 new batches in total.
However, an RTI reply accessed by the Muslim Educational Society (MES) from the Higher Secondary Directorate pegged the number of batches “thrust in’’ by the Cabinet subcommittee at 104. Alleging serious irregularities in the sanctioning of Plus Two batches, MES president Fasal Gafoor had asked the government to revoke the decision. It may be recalled that the expert panel, headed by the Higher Secondary Director, had recommended upgrading of high schools to higher secondary and creation of additional batches only in eight northern districts - from Ernakulam to Kasargod.
However, armed with a High Court Division Bench verdict, the government went ahead and sanctioned Plus Two schools in southern districts also. With the admission process to these newly sanctioned batches already underway, close to 3,500 Plus One seats will now have to be given up, officials said. The fate of the remaining batches, many of them which also reportedly do not conform to norms, will also depend on the “post-sanction verification’’ to be undertaken by the Higher Secondary Directorate. Reacting to the development, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he owns responsibility for the decision to sanction additional Plus Two batches. ‘’There is no irregularity involved. It is only an interim verdict,’’ Chandy said. He added that the government will inform the High Court that admission process was already underway to these new batches.
‘’The Cabinet will discuss the issue on Wednesday and explore the option of approaching a Division Bench against the verdict,’’ he said. Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb refused to accept the High Court order as a ‘’setback.’’ However, his predecessor and CPM Politburo member M A Baby demanded his resignation. “It is a blow to the UDF Government. The Opposition had been alleging corruption behind the sanctioning of Plus Two batches. The HC verdict proves it right. No doubt, the Education Minister should resign,’’ he said.