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Corruption allegations haunt DPS Society
Pankaj Vohra  New Delhi | 13th Dec 2014

A letter written 14 months ago by V.K. Shunglu, the present chairman of the Delhi Public School Society, in his capacity as a member, accusing two important functionaries of corruption has come to haunt him. The issue cropped up during a meeting of the Society held on 6 December, 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. The inconclusive meeting, which criticised the office bearers for flouting established conventions and norms, will now be held in January.

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 crore 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 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 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, a life member and member of the Working Group were 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 the 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 sets 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.

Sharada Nayak, in another letter dated 15 October to Mr 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 sets 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, DPS Society has stopped the process.

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