Delhi High Court Asks Lt Governor To Hear Private School Before Taking Over Its Management

The court said since the decision to take over a running school is an extreme step, an opportunity of personal hearing before such a decision is taken is an imperative.

Delhi High Court Asks Lt Governor To Hear Private School Before Taking Over Its Management
New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court has asked Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena to grant a personal hearing to a private unaided school here before deciding about taking over its management owing to alleged administrative and financial irregularities.

Justice C Hari Shankar said since the power to take over a school is vested in the lieutenant governor as the administrator under the law, a hearing has to be granted by him and not the Directorate of Education which issued a show cause notice to the school.

"It also goes without saying that personal hearing can be granted only by the authority which is to take the decision. Law in this country does not envisage, or even tolerate, personal hearing being granted by Peter, where the decision is to be taken by Paul," said the court in an order passed this week.

"A Division Bench of this Court held that the power to take over the management of a school vested only in the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor as the administrator, and did not vest in the Directorate of Education (DOE)," it stated.

The court said the personal hearing would be granted at the convenience of the lieutenant governor.

It would be for the petitioner to make itself available and not seek any adjournment, added the court.

The petitioner, a private unaided recognised senior secondary school, was issued a show cause by DOE on September 13, 2021 for various "management and administration related discrepancies as well as financial and other irregularities" in its its functioning. It sought to know why action for taking over of the management of the school be not initiated in terms of the Delhi School Education Act.

The petitioner, represented by advocate Kamal Gupta, contended that although the DOE agreed to grant it a hearing before deciding the issue, there was no question of a personal hearing being granted by any authority other than the lieutenant governor who alone could take a decision on taking over the school management.

The court said since the decision to take over a running school is an extreme step which entails civil consequences, an opportunity of personal hearing before such a decision is taken is an imperative.

"Given the drastic nature of the action that is proposed in the show cause notice dated 13 September 2021, it is obvious that the authority who is empowered in this regard should necessarily provide a personal hearing to the petitioner before the said decision is taken," the court said.

"Accordingly, the Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor is requested to grant an opportunity of personal hearing to the petitioner before taking a decision on the show cause notice dated 13 September 2021," the court said in its order.

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