PETITION BY CITY MONTESSORI SCHOOL ALUMNI/STUDENTS
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MR. JAGDISH GANDHI, YOU'RE NOT ABOVE THE LAW!
City Montessori School (CMS) as you know, is the world’s largest school, with over 55,000 students and 4,500 staff across 18 campuses in the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Dr. Jagdish Gandhi and Dr. Bharti Gandhi founded CMS in 1959, whose students from Montessori to Class XII achieve some of the best examination results in India. Their motto is “Jai Jagat” - 'Hail the World'.
Above lines of introduction about CMS have been picked up from their website http://www cmseducation.org/, where you find a lot of inspiring and motivational words/phrases and sentences like ‘Service to the World’, ‘Universal Values’, ‘Divine’ & ‘good’ human being, etc. These are some of the values they talk about as a philosophical background to what they are doing today.
We would now like to talk about and bring to your notice important facts, powerful enough to change your perception. Being CMS alumni ourselves, it was not easy for us to acknowledge these facts, as they were completely at variance from what we ever heard or experienced as kids/teenagers in CMS. However, it’s important for us as a society to know the reality. We are proud to be associated with this prestigious school but are quite disappointed to be let down by our founding manager, Mr. Jagdish Gandhi.
We are shocked to learn that managers of our school, which talks so much about service to mankind and development of a child, have been denying the less privileged children their legitimate right of admission as per national law while stating incorrect facts in the court of law. Following facts have recently come to light.
1. DENYING ADMISSION TO UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN WHICH THEY ARE ENTITLED TO AS PER LAW (Right to Education Act, 2009): In the academic year 2015-16, Lucknow Basic Shiksha Adhikari, District level education officer, ordered the City Montessori School, Indira Nagar branch to admit 15 children at Primary and 16 at Pre-Primary level under Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act for free education from classes I to VIII. Of these, 23 children belonged to Scheduled Caste category, 6 to Other Backward Classes and 2 to general category with their family's annual income below Rs. One lakh. The OBC and general category children were all from Muslim community. Hence all children belonged to deprived sections of society. Mr. Gandhi went to the High Court against the admission order citing lack of space in school and delayed order of BSA but was proved wrong when the HC sent the BSA for inspection of school. Then Mr. Jagdish Gandhi raised the issue of children to be from the neighbourhood according to the RTE Act. In the end HC ordered admission of 13 out of these 31 children who lived within a kilometre of the school.
- In academic year 2016-17, 55 underprivileged children were identified by BSA, Lucknow and their admission ordered in various branches of CMS. However, none of them were admitted, citing technical reasons like the residence of child not being within 1 km radius of school, child being underage or child being not from underprivileged family. Justice SaumitraDayal Singh of Allahabad HC has, in another RTE case, ordered that no technical reason can be given to reject a child’s admission to a school, especially if the school has not admitted upto 25% children under Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act.
- In academic year 2017-18, admission of 296 children was ordered by BSA, Lucknow in various branches of CMS. However, no admission was made for this year too, again citing technical reasons. Jagdish Gandhi published full page advertisements in all national dailies published from Lucknow giving reasons for not admitting these children. It was an irony that splurging so much money on advertisements he claimed in the same advertisement that he and his wife did not possess any assests nor had substantial bank balances. He obviously did not mention where the money to publish these costly advertisements came from?
- And now Mr. Jagdish Gandhi has formed a association of owners of private schools and moved the Supreme Court challenging the RTE Act, 2009 itself. So much for the unity of the world, his per theme on which he holds an annual international conference of judges. Looks like underprivileged children are not part of his 'world.'
- As Mr. Jagdish Gandhi refused admission to children from underprivileged background under RTE Act in his school, information about his schools was sought from Education department, Lucknow Development Authority, Chief Town and Country Planner, Fire department under the Right to Information Act, 2005, to find out whether he was fulfilling the norms of other departments. Following shocking facts have been unearthed.
2. INVOLVEMENT IN FRAUDULANT ACT: Mr. Jagdish Gandhi initially rented the building premise of A-823, Indira Nagar, Lucknow to run a branch of his school and over the past more than 2 decades has illegally built over it without the permission of the premise owner, R.B. Pathak, retired IAS officer. Earliest demolition order of this illegal construction dates back to 21 years (document attached) on 17 May, 1996. Mr. Jagdish Gandhi continued to run the school illegally as the orders were not followed by concerned authorities. This information and copies of subsequent demolition orders of this and adjoining plot A-903 were obtained on 11 December 2017 and a complaint made to District Magistrate and Commissioner, Housing Development Board, which had issued all the past demolition orders. A fresh order was issued to Mr. Jagdish Gandhi on 25 December, 2017, which he challenged in the High Court and got a stay on the demolition order on 4 January, 2018. Few questions arise here –
Why did the government/administration not take any action in last 21 years?
Even if there is now a stay on demolition, the 4 storey building standing on plots A-903 and A-823 is illegal and how can a school be recognised in an illegal building?
3. PRESENTING MISLEADING AND INCORRECT FACTS IN COURT OF LAW: Mr. Jagdish Gandhi has been stating facts related to number of students in Indira Nagar branch as per his needs and convenience. In HC where he needed to show that future of large number of students was at stake he mentioned the strength of Indira Nagar branch of CMS as 1731 students while to get clearance of fire department (since the building is in residential area and is not compliant with all standards from construction point of view) he stated that there are 600 students only. Where are your ethics Mr. Gandhi? Is it only for preaching your students and teachers? Moreover, this is a punishable act according to court of law.
Mr. Jagdish Gandhi has said in court that he is running the school as part of his fundamental right to occupation but at the same time he declares his activity to be non-commercial. If he is not making profit how did he grow from 5 students to 55,000 students in 58 years? Where did he get the money from to build 18 branches?
4. CMS ILLEGALLY RUNNING SIX BRANCHES, POSSIBLY MORE: CMS is running 6 branches without recognition from the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations - two in Rajendra Nagar, one each in Aliganj and Rajajipuram, Jopling Road and Ashrfabad. On the CMS website all 18 branches are separately mentioned but on CISCE site separate branches (in Rajendra Nagar, Aliganj and Rajajipuram) are not mentioned.
- It has also been found under the RTI Act that the Indira Nagar and Anand Nagar branches do not have the necssary No Objection Certificate from UP government to obtain recognition from any Board. It looks like a case of collusion between CMS, CISCE and education department of UP government as part of which branches of CMS continue functioning illegally.
What about the future of children currently studying in these premises, in case the affiliation board decides not to award any certificate of completion to such students? Will Mr. Jagdish Gandhi take responsibility?
Mr. Jagdish Gandhi's behviour is despicable. Our heads hang in shame. If you cannot provide inclusive education to children of your own country and are trying to find reasons to avoid those admissions, then for sure, people as well as the system of this country need to know you better Mr. Jagdish Gandhi.
We need alumni, students and anybody associated with CMS to sign this petition so that Mr. Jagdish Gandhi understands that he is not above the law.
Prakarsh Srivastava, class XII from CMS, Mahanagar in 2000, 9818554465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mudit Shukla, class XII from CMS, Mahanagar in 2000, 9876369638, email@example.com
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