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Member demands administrator for DPS Society

Sharada Nayak, a life member, has raised questions in the past too about the manner in which certain decisions had been taken.

Pankaj Vohra  New Delhi | 24th Jan 2015

DPS Mathura Road

The functioning of the Delhi Public School Society, which has been caught in a series of controversies, is likely to be probed by the Registrar of Societies, Delhi government. A detailed complaint against the alleged irregularities in the society has been sent to the Registrar by Sharada Nayak, a life member who has raised questions in the past too about the manner in which certain decisions had been taken. Nayak has asked the Registrar to appoint an Administrator to oversee the affairs of the Society, where ever since the election of the present Chairman V.K. Shunglu by one vote, something or the other has been making the news for wrong reasons.

Sources in the Registrar of Society's office have confirmed that a complaint has indeed been received but declined to offer comment since the concerned officer was busy with election duty for the Delhi Assembly elections. These sources said that the Society has limited powers as most of the matters have to be addressed by courts. However, if there is any serious violation of rules and regulations, the Registrar could take cognisance of the offence and recommend action.

Nayak has, in a three-page letter of complaint, stated that there have been a number of violations in the rules. Listing some of the instances, she cited the reluctance on part of the present management to take into confidence all life members, was resulting in arbitrary decisions. The arbitrary decisions include the induction of two Life Members through a questionable process and despite the fact that none of them ever applied for the job. The two — former Cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and journalist Rahul Singh — were inducted by circulating a letter and none of them was introduced to other members at that time.

She goes on to accuse the management of following an irregular method of recruiting the staff in some of the DPS schools. There was no duly constituted selection committee and most of the selections were being done in an arbitrary manner by the Chairman himself.

She has also raised the issue of the controversial election of V.K. Shunglu who subsequently refused to accept the recommendations of the high-powered Disputes Redressal Committee (DRC) comprising Salman Khurshid, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Ravi Vira Gupta that favoured a re-election.

She has further said in her complaint that though a meeting of the general body was held after a big gap in December 2014, its minutes were yet to be circulated. A number of issues including the one pertaining to the allegations made by Shunglu against two other functionaries by name figured at that meeting as also several other issues. She has offered that she would be too glad to be present in person to explain to the Registrar what all wrong was happening in the Society, which seems to have deviated from the noble objectives it was meant to follow.

The reference to the Chairman's letter pertains to the one written 15 months ago by V.K. Shunglu in his capacity as a member, accusing two important functionaries of corruption. The letter has come to haunt him. The issue had cropped up during a meeting of the Society held on 6 December 2014 where copies of the letter dated 6 October 2013 addressed to Ashok Chandra, the then Chairman were circulated by an aggrieved member causing deep embarrassment to the members of the working committee.

Shunglu in the letter while asking the management to withhold the payments of Saluja Builders, a prominent real estate group, had charged that a top functionary of the society had fixed deposits in the excess of Rs 25 cr in his accounts and the principal of a prominent DPS school was unable to explain to Income Tax authorities how he had acquired multiple flats in the capital. He had alleged that the real estate group had been a conduit for the "financial aspirations" of the two persons involved in the irregular dealings. Therefore they should refund the money after proper verification of the quality and value of the work done.

Ironically, the functionary is also a part of the team headed by Shunglu, who took over as the Chairman following his controversial victory by a single vote for the post after it became known that the vote cast by eminent journalist, the late Khushwant Singh, in favour of Ashok Chandra earlier this year had gone missing leading to demands of a re-election.

Considered to be a man of unimpeachable integrity, Shunglu has resisted the re-election demand and for many months did not even convene a meeting of the full society to resolve the issue. In the meantime, Ashok Chandra resorted to legal recourse and has moved the judiciary. The matter is pending in the Delhi High Court.

The meeting had witnessed heated exchanges between some members and the functionary accused of amassing huge fixed deposits retorted by stating that he was answerable only to the tax authorities and no one else. Some of those present also wondered why no action had been taken against the principal who was being investigated by the Income Tax department if Shunglu's charges were correct. Many other issues including the issue of the Chairman's election as well as the one pertaining to signing of agreements with franchises also came up for discussion. Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid and Sharada Nayak were the most vocal. The Chairman was also grilled on how he had inducted B.K. Chaturvedi, former Cabinet Secretary and Rahul Singh, well known journalist and son of late Khushwant Singh as members of the society without following established norms. The meeting was finally adjourned.

The Delhi Public School Society, which runs more than 100 schools in India and abroad including DPS Mathura Road, DPS R.K. Puram and DPS Chandigarh, has been courting one controversy after the other. Several weeks ago, Nayak had sought clarifications from the Chairman on whether the agreements the society signed with some franchises recently were conforming to the copy submitted to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). And if not, the implications were of a very grave nature and could amount to gross irregularities on part of the Society thereby making it prima facie into a case of fraud.

Nayak had cautioned the Chairman that the MoU entered by the society with the franchises did not involve any monetary consideration that is either not approved or acceptable as per the required norms of the CBSE. "If it does so, you are the best person to understand the implications of signing such an MoU besides an approved agreement. I don't subscribe to signing of any such MoU without the consent, opinion and approval of other life members. As we all know that the CBSE is an affiliating body and any stricture passed by them for violation of any norms shall affect the future of both our schools and children".

Sources said that the Society has signed two set of agreements with the franchises. The one which has the approval of the CBSE has no financial implications or mention but another set that has been signed seeks to raise the affiliation fee to Rs 10 to 12 lakh.

The copy of the second agreement has not been given to the franchises and that would therefore make it difficult for them to transfer the money to the society with the required approval of their respective trusts. In other words, the second set of agreement is void as no money can be legally paid unless it has been sanctioned.

Nayak in another letter dated 15 October 2014 Shunglu had again raised the matter of signing the agreement and MoU by the Pro Vice Chairmen (read owners) of various DPS schools. "As stated earlier, I shared my reservations both on non sharing of the copy of the MoU and also about the consideration if any charged from any of the PVCs in contradiction of the terms of agreement".

She highlighted the anomalies in the letter as there is "no specific period for which these agreements are entered into either for a specific period or in perpetuity. In case of termination, ideally the logo and the name Delhi Public School should be withdrawn immediately after termination which seems inadvertently not mentioned in the agreements. After a careful reading of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, Consideration is one of the essential elements for an agreement to become a contract. It is a requisite for all contracts other than those made by deed. Except in cases of natural love and affection, compensation for past voluntary service, agreement to pay time barred debt, completed gift, contract of agency, remission by the promise after the performance of the promise and/or continuation to charity the consideration is not required. Consideration maybe of nominal value or substantial value".

The implication of what Nayak is alleging is that the DPS society has signed two set of agreements with the franchises. One is without consideration which has been sent to the CBSE and the other is with consideration, the copy of which has not been supplied to the franchises. In other words, information about the monetary transaction being involved has been concealed from the CBSE.

Sources said that ever since the matter was raised by Nayak who is also demanding a meeting of the Life members to take their opinion, the DPS society has stopped the process.

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