Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was not even in the womb of politics. Orissa Assembly had to plunge into pandemonium over a frontbencher’s allegation that the education directorate had become a fish market where every file movement had a price tag. Even ministers were one with the allegation.
Sadly, the scenario has not changed. The same fish market character is yet discernible. Director to clerks in the Directorate of Secondary Education sleep over a matter if palms are not greased and illegal orders are manufactured and enforced if pockets are taken proper care of.
I will cite a single instance.
I may cite many instances. But I am citing a single instance with the specific purpose that, for the new minister in charge of the portfolio – Sri Debi Prasad Mishra, who, unlike many of his colleagues is a sharp grasper – can pay his concentrated attention to the syndrome if a single instance is focused and reach a remedy.
So, here it is.
Sankarsan Godi Godi Sahi Bidyapitha
Director, Secondary Education, Orissa, in a letter signed by Deputy Director (NGS) on 7.5.14, has quashed the retrenchment order of Sri Dhobanath Sahu, in-charge Headmaster of this school and has allowed him “to resume in his duty in the school immediately”. This order of “so-called reinstatement” has been challenged as “illegal/arbitrary/high-handed” in W.P.(C) No.10575/2014.
Without prejudice to the case in question, it may be mentioned that the Director has created the situation for the case that has ruined the academic environment of a rural high school founded, not by the Government, but by the villagers for benefit of their children.
It is just a case study on how school education in Orissa is being imperiled by the Director of Secondary Education as his corrupt colleagues have kept the Directorate a “fish market”.
The School by the villagers for their children
As the State Government stayed apathetic to people’s demand for a High School so that the gateway to higher education could have opened for their children, the villagers of Godisahi, Godi in the district of Khurdha resolved to establish a high school by them. A man of great humanitarian concern of the locality Sri Abhay Ch. Nanda donated a decent patch of land to the villagers for establishment of the High School and the same started functioning with the collective contributions of the villagers. On recommendation of the Government, as the people had “fulfilled all the conditions for recognition”, the Board of Secondary Education recognized the private school by order No. 283 dated 8.1.1993, that helped the students graduate from the said school, which was essential for their higher education.
Churning machine of illegal TCs
The above named Dhobanath Sahu was the Headmaster in-charge of the school. He took full advantage of the recognition and made the school a churning machine of illegal certificates. Let us take into accounts only two days of a single month in order not to overload this presentation with documents. The month is May 2001 and the dates are 3 and 11. T.C. No. 1066426 was issued on 3.5.2001 to one Shyama Sunder Senapati wherein ‘purpose of leaving the school was mentioned as “For Service”. His date of admission is shown as 20.7.86 and his number in the Admission Register is shown as 15/86. Even the percentage of his attendance in the class is shown: 92.06%. But in reality, Senapati was never admitted into the School. In fact, there was no admission on 20.7.86. Obviously, Senapati wanted the TC with a date of birth suitable to him for service eligibility and he bribed heavily Sri Sahu and got the TC.
Racket of manufactured certificates
The second instance of manufactured TC is the one issued on 11.5.2001 to one Suresh Kumar Pradhan. The number of this TC is: 10066429. Pradhan is shown to have taken admission on 24.7.92 and his number in the Admission Register is shown: 26/92. The date of leaving the school is shown: 20.12.92 and the marks secured are shown ‘A’,’C’ and ‘B’ respectively against WE/SUPW, Art Education and Health/Physical Education. Yet, there is no mention of his percentage of attendance, though that is must requirement to be mentioned in the TC and he had read in the school for 17 months till the date of his leaving the school on 20.12.94. It is shown in the TC that he had left the school “For Service”. But like the previous one, this one was also manufactured against heavy payola. As records of the school shows, Pradhan was never admitted in the school, there was no admission on 24.7.92 and the Admission Register had not even reached the serial 26.
For service, authentic proof of the date of birth is essential. And, a school leaving certificate/transfer certificates (TC) carries the date of birth, legally accepted as authentic. Dhobanath Sahu churned out such certificates against huge money collected clandestinely.
Even Board of Secondary Education certificates were being generated fraudulently and sold to non-students at very heavy price in a planned manner wherein Board officials were also involved. Non-students were being sent to the Board as “regular students” for High School Examination and with the help of agents in the Board, HS Certificates were also being generated. Then Headmaster I/C Sri Sahu was handing over the same to the buyers. One such certificate bears the Serial No: M1942241. Sri Sahu has signed it on 3.12.07 as the Headmaster. But the student Nesarat Mahammad was not a student of this school.
MC in action
Such some mischief having come to the attention of the staff as well as the managing committee, before the managing committee initiate any action against his frauds, Sahu relinquished his responsibility on his own accord and requested the Secretary of the MC on 10.7.2008, that, as he was “not working properly” because of being under the load of “so many problems” , he had already “left HM and Hostel charge”; and requested him to give “HM and Hostel charge specially to Bijaya Kumar Nayak”. And, with this much intimation to the Secretary, he abandoned the school under panic.
The MC of the school, under such extraordinary situation looked into his conduct in depth. To its horror, it found that not only such fraud in generation and issuance of certificates to non-students, but also his activities included misappropriation of school properties and even selling away of a lot of classroom furniture like chairs and tables. The MC wanted to hear him in this matter. But he did not come despite repeated notices.
In its meeting No.08 of 2008, the MC recorded details of the offenses committed by Sri Sahu and unanimously adopting resolutions against him, informed the same to the Inspector of Schools,, Khurdha Circle as well as to the Director of Secondary Education and Board of Secondary Education, Orissa. The MC enumerated his offenses and resolved to dismiss him. Yet, as he had not handed over the charges, particularly the accounts of the school for 10 years under his headmastership, he was given 15 days time to handover charges as per law, failing which, as communicated to him through Advocate Ajit Kumar Patnaik on 7.11.2008, it would be deemed that he has no interest for the post and the funds not accounted for by him spanning 10 years would be treated as “misappropriated” and the MC would take “appropriate legal action” for recovery of the money.
BSE and CI involved in the racket
As Sri Sahu continued to keep mum, a big bunch of High School Certificates arrived and it was seen that the claimants of the certificates, recommended to the Board by Sahu as regular students were not at all admitted in the school. New HM I/C Bijay Kumar Nayak refused to give them the certificates, as there was no trace of them in the school admission register. Board Secretary as well as the Inspector of Schools,, Khurdha Circle forced the new HM I/C to issue them the certificates on obtaining affidavits from them wherein they were to declare their date of birth, names of parents, addresses and that they were students of the school. That was complied with and certificates, thus, were issued under signature of the new HM I/C. This proves that the Board of Secondary Education and the Inspector of Schools,, Khurdha Circle were deeply involved with this forgery and Dobanath Sahu was running the racket of certificate manufacturing in the school with their help.
Exemplary action by MC
The offenses of Sahu were so serious that in view of his total silence over the charges and abandonment of service, he could have been dismissed from service. Yet, the MC did not dismiss him. It demoted him to the 3rd position in the cadre list of its teachers and informed him of this in its Secretary’s letter dated 4.11.2008, while asking its lawyer to serve on him the notice mentioned supra. It was an exemplary action. But this magnanimity shown to him was ignored by Sahu, as he was in active Panchayat politics by then and the demotion order had not absolved him from the offenses he had committed.
The School under Block Grant
After this demotion was effected, the School was taken into the Block Grant scheme a copy of which reached the school on 6.11.2008. Block Grants ensures a minimum amount of stable salary with financial support from the state, a step ahead towards full salary at par with government schools. The school was instructed to submit its staff list for approval of appointment by 10.11.2008, which the school complied with on 8.11.2008, showing Dhobanath Sahu in the third position in the list of teachers and staff.
Approval refused to Sahu
As transpires from Government Orders communicated through Circle Inspector’s letter No. 8202 dt.25.5.2009 and letter No. 16982 dt. 9.11.2009, the government refused to approve Sahu as a teacher, as by then it was aware of the forgery and other illegalities he had committed as HM I/C of the school. But Sahu was not to miss the chance to regular pay through the gateway of Block Grant. He was anyhow to grab approved status despite denial of approval to his appointment by the government. He cultivated the lady Inspector Priti Pratima Bhol to achieve this.
Priti Pratima Bhol gives birth to a mischief
Under his influence, Inspector of Schools of the circle Ms. Priti Pratima Bhol gave birth to a mischief that has since then destroyed the academic environment of the school under loads of litigation.
She was so gained over by Sahu that she generated a letter on 25.01.10 bearing No.986 addressed directly to him as “Headmaster in charge” of the school, wherein she gave reference of two letters she had received from Sahu on 17.11.2008 and 21.12.2009 and said:
“You reported to this office that you attended the school on dt.15.11.08 and dt. 21.12.09. But the ex-secretary of the school did not allow you to resume the duty of the school.
In this connection you are requested to proceed to the school and resume the duties properly. Any obstacles arises in the matter, may be reported to the undersigned for further course of action at this end”.
The copy of this letter was communicated to Bijay Kumar Sahoo, assistant teacher of the school, requesting him “to co-operate Sri Sahu to work in the school, threatening him simultaneously that if “any deviation arises in the matter”, he “will be held responsible for the purpose”.
Priti’s mischief is as naked as a nude in this letter. In order dated 5.2.2010 in W.P.(C) No. 2096 of 2010, the High Court of Orissa had held this order illegal with the observation that the “Inspector of schools, Khurda Circle, Khurda has absolutely no jurisdiction to thrust upon the school to accept Shree Dhobanath Sahoo as Headmaster In-charge in the said institution, which is solely within the domain of the Managing Committee”. This order was recalled on technical ground in RVWPET No.42 of 2010, in order to give a chance to Sahu to step in to the Writ Case and say his version. The issue has rested there.
But the Director of Secondary Education was duty bound to take administrative steps against Priti Pratima Bhol for her corruption discernible in the letter cited supra.
These are the points that bare her corruption:
1. She was in possession of the minutes and resolutions of the School Managing Committee Meeting No.08/08 wherein forgery and misappropriations committed by Sahu and his abandonment of service were recorded;
2. She was in possession of the order of demotion of Sahu from the post of HM I/C to the third position in the list of teachers pending enquiry into his offenses;
3. She was well aware of the fact that Sahu was no more the HM I/C, as she had accepted and forwarded to the Director the statutory information sheet in Form A-(II) signed by the new MC I/C wherein Sahu was shown in the 3rd position in the list of teachers;
4. The government’s orders denying approval to Sahu’s appointment was well within her knowledge, as it was she, who had communicated the government order to the School in her letters of 25.5.09 and 9.11.09 wherein there was no trace of Sahu in the approved list of teachers eligible for Block Grant.
5. She never made any enquiry on the on Sri Sahu’s allegation that the ex-secretary did no allow him to join his duties though he had “attended the school on dt. 15.11.08 and dt.21.12.09”.
6. From letter of Sahu dated 10.07.08 till 15.11.08, where was Sahu? If he had attended the school on 15.11.08, and the ex-secretary did not allow him resume his duties, why was he silent till 25.05.09? On the other hand, if he had written the letter to the Inspector on 25.05.09 as Ms. Bhola has mentioned, where was he thereafter till 09.11.09? Ms. Priti Pratima has not required any answer on this from Sahu. She has not even asked the School to react to Sahu’s letters. She has not even revealed what action she had taken on Sahu’s letters. Not only that, but also she has not mentioned of Sahu’s letter of what date she had to issue this mischievous letter on 25.01.10 and where was Sahu from 09.11.09 till this date.
How could she address Dhobanath Sahu as HM I/C in this letter when she knew that he was not the post holder, not even an approved teacher and a teacher under the process of prosecution for misappropriation of wealth of the school and forgery of certificates?
It was incumbent upon the Director to enquire into allegations against Sahu if the school fitted into Block Grant was to be saved. In fact, on 29.04.10 by order No.21660, the Director had asked the Circle Inspector of schools, Khurda for a factual report on the well documented allegations of HM I/C of the school. The CI was the same Ms. Bhola whose mischief, as discussed above, was at the root of all the ills the school was suffering. The representation of the HM I/C dated 13.4.10 on which the Director had sought for the report, had severe allegations against the same Inspector. The “subject” of the allegation read, “Repeated harassment being meted out to S.G.G.Bidyapitha by the C.I. of Schools, Khurda”. When the allegations were such emphatically raised against the C.I. of Schools, the Director had asked the same C.I. to to enquire into the allegations and report. What a farce!
Case in the High Court
The C.I. had made the situation so unmanageable that the school had to seek intervention of the High Court of Orissa in W.P.(C) No. 22280 of 2010. In an Order dated 22.12.2010 in Misc. Case No. 20410 arising out of the writ case, the High Court, in the interim, stayed the order dated 29.11.2010 issued by the C.I. of schools, Khurda. Interestingly, Sahu filed a misc. case to be an intervener , which the Court granted. And, he moved the Court for vacating the interim order dated 22.12.10. The Court refused to vacate the stay.
Retrenchment quashed in absence of retrenchment!
When Dhobanath Sahu’s prayer has thus been rejected in the High Court and the issue is sub judice, the Director of Secondary Education has issued an order bearing No.15089 dated 06.05.14 wherein it is mentioned that the Director “has been pleased to quash the retrenchment order of Sri Dhobanath sahu, in-charge Headmaster, Sankarsan Godi Godisahi Bidyapitha, Godi and allow him to resume in his duty in the school immediately”. Sahu was never retrenched. Which order of retrenchment the Director quashed is a conundrum.
Sahu was demoted to the 3rd rank in the faculty, pending disciplinary action. Under orders of the Government the Director refused to approve his appointment for Block Grant, obviously because of his serious misconduct. So quashing his “retrenchment” when he was not retrenched and asking him to resume as Headmaster of the school, when he was not in the approved list and there was a Headmaster legitimately in chair by being appointed by the MC and recognized by the authorities, is an offense that only a habitual offender can do; not a responsible Director of education.
The school is a non-government school and the Director has no jurisdiction to appoint anybody as Headmaster or to quash any resolution of the MC of the school. Appointment of Headmaster “is solely within the domain of the Managing Committee”, had declared the High Court on 05.02.10 in W.P.(C) 2096 of 2010.
This illegal order has been challenged in a new writ case bearing No. W.P.(C) 10575/2014.
This is just a sample of how the fish market is continuing in the Directorate of Secondary Education, Orissa, under the very nose of the Secretary and Minister of the department.