Reconsider Provisional Affiliation For Garden School, Calcutta High Court Tells Ministry of Education

Garden School-IISER campus in Mohanpur

Kolkata, March 8: The Calcutta High Court on Monday has directed the Union Ministry of Education to reconsider granting provisional affiliation to the Garden High School-IISER in Nadia’s Mohanpur in consultation with the CBSE, which put its students in uncertainty about their future.

The High Court at the same time told the Ministry of Education to examine the reason for the delay in the finalization of the lease between the IISER authorities and the school concerned.

In his order, Justice Sekhar B Saraf has requested the union Education minister to look into this aspect “on a war footing” before the next adjournment date”.

While making its observation on a petition filed by the Satikanta Guha Foundation, which manages the academic affairs of Garden school, the court has directed the respondents – IISER-K, CBSE to submit their affidavit-in-opposition within 10 days apparently to settle the matter on March 23 when the case will be heard again.

Justice Saraf said, ‘I am of the view that the matter can be settled by the Ministry of Education …..”.

Court’s observation has made the guardians elated as they expect a settlement of the affiliation issue to the school by CBSE finally ending the uncertainty of their children.

“The CBSE has long been skirting the issue of affiliation to the Garden High School-IISER while the IISER delaying to finalize the lease agreement with the school management”, father of a student said.

Earlier during COVIT Pandemic, September last year the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) allegedly skirted the issue of affiliation to the school choosing instead to dislodge the students from their school and implicitly suggested to take admission to a new school in the name of registration to students promoted to class IX, which prompted the guardians to call out the move as a blow to the physic of the students who were then coping with an extreme anxiety of pandemic, online classes, registration and moreover losing their school and friends.

Guardians accused the CBSE of having sidestepped the core issue and said they felt “deceived”.

Reacting to the development, guardian Anirban Mukherjee, employed with a tech MNC, said: “The CBSE has been toying with the future of students lingering the litigation. It is not just a question of only 23 students of class X, but of around 400 other students who have been suffering from anxiety for the last three years now, because of this uncertainty. The contentious issue remained unresolved even an academic year ended”.

Earlier on July 30 last year, Justice Soumen Sen had directed the CBSE to issue provisional affiliation to the Garden School-IISER and to ensure admission to students who have cleared Class VIII.
But the CBSE filed an appeal before a division bench of the high court challenging the order, which was issued on an appeal filed by respondent Satikanta Guha Foundation (SGF) that runs the school at IISER-K’s campus in Nadia’s Mohanpur.

During the hearing of the appeal on August 28, the CBSE had assured the division bench that it would “register” students of class IX with another school of an equivalent standard, subject to parental consent, so the wards could appear in the board’s final examination.

The division bench, comprising Justice Indra Prasanna Mukerji and Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, approved the CBSE’s submission, setting aside the July 30 order, while offering the conditional option to register the students from class IX within four weeks.

The division bench stated that if the condition (the registration of class IX students) was fulfilled, “the appellant (CBSE) may not provisionally affiliate the school in question and await the disposal of the appeal”. Otherwise, said the division bench, the July 30 order (issue of affiliation) of the single-judge bench “shall remain in full force”.

CBSE counsel U.S. Menon had assured the division bench about the registration of students.

The CBSE’s move, however, was not well received by guardians. The said class IX students are still left out without registration at the time when they have just completed finals of Class IX and going into Class X.

In 2015, the IISER-K had chosen the Calcutta-based SGF to set up and manage a school inside its campus for the benefit of children of its staff and local residents. But the CBSE, on a number of occasions since 2019, rejected the SGF’s appeal for affiliation of the Garden High School-IISER, on the grounds that it had no boundary wall and the NOC issued by the IISER-K had not been vetted by the Union ministry of human resource development. This had prompted the SGF to file an appeal before the Calcutta High Court in August last year.

The CBSE had further raised objections over the absence of registered lease deeds to reject the appeal, despite the existence of a formal agreement between the IISER-K and SGF.

A CBSE official said: “We need a lease deed for affiliation, which we reiterated in our appeal.”  “The CBSE is contradicting its own affiliation by-laws. According to the modified provisions of the CBSE’s affiliation by-laws, no lease deed is required for schools managed by societies for central or public sector undertakings, or similar bodies,” refuting the claim an IISER official said.

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