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Centre can’t be compelled to pay for NGO-run schools: Delhi HC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has ruled that the Central government cannot be compelled to release grant-in-aid to a school, run by an NGO for differently-abled kids, for paying salary to its staff at par with their colleagues at government institutions.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri reversed an order of a single judge asking the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to release funds to NGO Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) for paying salary to teachers and others at Asha school, meant for differently-abled kids of army personnel, at par with the government employees.

The court said that if such a direction is issued to the Centre in the case, then many employees of other institutions would come up with similar pleas.

“Such a direction if given to Asha school, many other or similar other institutions who are getting financial support under the Scheme formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment would come forward and it may become naturally difficult for the government to meet those demands.

“Therefore, direction to this effect given by the single judge to the appellant to release grant-in-aid commensurate to the requirement of Asha School to pay to its teachers and staff… pay scales on par with the scales of pay given to the staff… in government schools is not legally permissible and we set aside the same,” the bench, also comprising Justice R S Endlaw, said.

The court’s decision came on an appeal of the Centre against the judgement of a single judge asking it release more funds to AWWA for paying teachers and others salary of Asha School on par with their colleagues in government institutes.

The court, in its judgement, said, “As a welfare measure, Asha School was started to impart education to differently- abled children. These children are of army personnel. This school is not recognised and does not come within the ambit of Delhi School Education Act.

“Therefore, the provisions of the said Act, including those which pertain to payment of salary, etc. to the teachers of the recognised private school, do not apply to Asha School”.

The court, however, sympathised with the staff of the school saying, “No doubt, these teachers are performing the same duties, which are being performed by their counterparts in the recognised or aided schools. It is also correct that the work of such teachers who deal with differently abled children may even more arduous.”

It would have been an ideal situation, if AWWA could have paid them, it said, adding the school was being run as a “benevolent activity” and hence, the staffs cannot claim parity of pay scales. Asha School is not run on profits, no fee or hardly any fee is charged from the students. But for some grant given by the Central government, it may not even be possible for AWWA to run it, it said.

“This court would like to put it on record that with a heavy heart, the court is denying the benefit of higher salaries to the respondents. Had it been possible, this court would have ensured that these teachers also get the same remuneration, which is being given to the teachers of recognised school discharging same duties,” it said.

Coming to the liability of the Central government, it seems difficult to direct them to bear the financial burden, it said.

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