SRINAGAR: The high court is currently hearing a case that will decide whether missionary schools in the Valley are public institutions liable to disclose their earnings and expenditure under the Right to Information Act.
Omar Javid, an RTI activist, had in 2013 sought details of income and expenditure from missionary schools like Biscoe, Mallinson and Presentation Convent. The management of these schools had refused to provide the information, saying they were not public institutions as defined under the RTI Act.
Javid then complained to the State Information Commission, which asked the schools to provide the information sought. The schools, however, gave the same reply to the SIC.
The commission roped in the education department but failed to extract the information. It then asked the applicant and the schools to provide arguments for and against the contention that these schools are answerable under the RTI Act.
Omar had argued that the schools were public institutions because the government had leased land to them for nominal rates, while they also enjoyed rebate on construction fee on buildings provided they reserve 25 percent of seats for poor students free of cost.
“The schools charge fee from Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 depending upon the class. For admissions, they charge anything between Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh. Despite taking this huge amount they neither provide free education to poor students nor pay a decent rent to government,” Omar added.
“The SIC was hearing the case but the high court is now hearing it because the schools got a stay order from the court. As per law the commission cannot appear in this case now,” said state information commissioner GR Sufi.