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State sits on new school proposal for 19 years then asks to apply afresh
Wednesday June 11, 2014 1:00 PM , Staff Reporter

With a dream of getting approval for a primary school he envisioned in his early career, 43-year-old Naeem Shaheen, a teacher, had made numerous visits to Mantralay in the past 19 years. From 1995 to 2014, he always left the state secretariat with renewed hope and anticipation, and always rushed for the next available train to be back in Malegaon so as to prepare for expectantly the final and fruitful trip to the Mantralay.

Naeem Shaheen

However, while walking down the stairs from the education department office of the state on the 4th floor of Mantralay Tuesday, he was a dejected and crestfallen man, looked almost lost and in no hurry to be back home. Unlike last occasions, the brief meeting with the officer in the state's education department this time had shattered his dream.

"I have been told that my application has been rejected and I would need to apply afresh next month in June", Shaheen, who is the Chairman of Gulshan Education Society, said while talking to the

Ironically, Shaheen's application has been rejected after the approval by district committee, the judgement by National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) and the Bombay High Court ruling directing the state government to consider his proposal.

Shaheen had applied in 1995 for approval to start a primary school in Gulab Park – a densely populated area with a huge lot of slums. The nearest government school from this location is 03 kms away and no private school exists near the vicinity.

Shaheen had fulfilled all the prerequisites including land and infrastructure, and submitted the details along with the application. Consequently, a district committee made a visit and after verification on the ground forwarded his application to the state committee for final approval.

"After approval of the district committee, a state committee is supposed to visit for further verification. However, the state committee never visited the proposed site and rejected the proposal citing a reason which is not true", he said.

The official report shared with the by Shaheen showed the district committee expressing satisfaction over his proposal, but the state committee rejecting the proposal saying the society did not have the needed land and infrastructure.

Shaheen claimed that the land and infrastructure of the proposed school fulfils even the norms and guidelines as given under the Right to Education Act.

After persuading with the state government for about 12 years, Shaheen approached the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) in 2009. The NCMEI in its judgement dated July 07, 2009 directed the state government to sanction his application and simultaneously allowed Shaheen to start the primary school.

"I sent the NCMEI judgement to all education departments - right from Malegaon and Nashik to Mumbai. None of them responded to my letter nor asked me to refrain from opening the school without state's permission", Shaheen said.

After failing to get state approval even after the NCMEI judgement, Shaheen went to the Bombay High Court in 2010. The High Court in its ruling dated June 11, 2010 directed the state to consider approving the proposal. The state however says the NCMEI or the court judgements have no binding on it.

"As long as school permissions are concerned, the NCMEI or High Court can only make recommendations, they cannot give orders. Giving permission to start a school is totally the power of the state. It can give or reject, immaterial of whether an application is fresh or many years old ", A.B. Jagtap, an officer at the School Education & Sports Department, Government of Maharashtra said while talking to on phone.

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