Orissa HC notice to state govt over BSE model school takeover by SME dept

The petition was taken up for hearing on Friday. Advocate Akshaya Kumar Pandey argued on behalf of the petitioner and sought an interim stay order on the resolution till disposal of case.
Orissa High Court.
Orissa High Court.

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has issued notice to the state government on a PIL challenging the takeover of Secondary Board High School (SBHS), a model school set up by the Board of Secondary Education (BSE) in Cuttack in 1959.

The school was established by BSE as a demonstration and experimental school under the Orissa Secondary Education Act, 1953. The School and Mass Education (SME) department had passed a resolution for taking over SBHS on December 7, 2023. Accordingly, the institution was taken over on January 1, 2024.

A former student of SBHS Sujogya Kumar Samantaray had filed a PIL on January 2 seeking to quash the resolution on the ground that it was in contravention of the statute and beyond the state government’s authority.

“Unfortunately, the government which is required under law to ensure implementation of the provisions of Orissa Secondary Education Act, 1953 has taken over the only school of the Board, thereby usurping upon the functions of the Board as mandated under section 11 (k) of the Act; even though the Act does not empower the government to take over the school of the Board,” the PIL contended.

The petition was taken up for hearing on Friday. Advocate Akshaya Kumar Pandey argued on behalf of the petitioner and sought an interim stay order on the resolution till disposal of case.However, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice BR Sarangi and Justice MS Raman refused to pass any interim order at this stage, but issued notices seeking responses from the commissioner-cum-secretary SME Department and secretary, BSE.

The petition said the legislature in its wisdom while allowing establishing demonstration/experimental schools, in the larger public interest of improving the quality of secondary education empowered the Board to establish its own school, but the SME department has defeated the intent of the legislature.

“The Board has lost its own land and school building constructed out of funds collected from poor guardians of the state and again it has to bear salary and pension of the staff serving in the school. So, the Board has been put to sort of double jeopardy by such hostile takeover by the government,” the petition alleged.

The petitioner further expressed apprehension about the efficacy of education in the SBHS after takeover by government due to dual administration by both Board and government when the Board and its employees are governed by a separate set of rules framed under Orissa Secondary Education Act, 1953.

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