Two zilla parishad education department officials, who were caught red-handed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday, while receiving a bribe from a school principal, have now blamed their senior Shailaja Darade who they allege instructed them to demand the money. The two officials — office superintendent Shilpa Menon and peon Mahadeo Surukh — have been remanded to police custody for four days by the court on Friday.
Police inspector Arun Ghodke attached to the bureau informed that the police custody has been granted to investigate the case further. On the day of the trap, Menon called the principal Dominic Lobo of National English Primary and High School and informed him about a ‘boss’ who had called and his cheque of Rs 22 lakh was ready. The police are still investigating about who the ‘boss’ is.
During probe, Menon blamed Darade, primary education officer, and alleged that she had directed them to collect a bribe of Rs 1,50,000. The police are also investigating if Menon and Surukh were previously involved in collecting bribes from other schools to release their Right to Education (RTE) funds. ACB sleuths caught the accused when they had turned up to accept a first installment towards this of Rs 50,000.
The school had been asking for their RTE funds since five years and had also announced its closure due to non-payment of the amount. Principal Lobo complained to ACB about the education officers demanding the bribe to disburse the RTE amount which the school rightfully owned from the state government.
Just like the infamous license-permit raj did in industry/business, RTE has forced private organizations to resort to corrupt ways just to get what is their due – the freedom to manage their own affairs and contribute as productive members of society without any shackles.
And just like the economy was liberalized in 1991 by Narasimha Rao, education sector needs to be freed from the shackles of bureaucratic incompetence and sectarianism that laws like RTE have imposed.
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