The World famous Dalhousie Public School of Himachal Pradesh is facing a danger of getting shut down.A 40-year-old center of academic excellence is facing troubles as a one-man commission of the Himachal Pradesh government recommending vesting of the entire school land located in picturesque Dalhousie, about 350 km from Shimla.
The commission, headed by Justice D.P. Sood, former judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, has made recommendations after finding glaring violations by the school authorities in property transactions and original lease deed. Vesting of the school would mean acquiring the entire premises.
The judicial commission, set up on the recommendation of the state assembly, probed illegal land transactions carried out across the state from 2003 to March 2011.
DPS, established in 1970, attracts NRIs and prominent people from the region. It also has students from foreign countries, including the US, Canada, Britain and several other European nations.
The commission, probing lease deeds relating to the school land, says the school got the land from the government on a lease of 99 years in 1937, with a condition of its renewal after 30 years.
It points out that “there does not seem to be any renewal lease deed after the expiry of the first term lease deed for 30 years, which expired Sep 18, 1966. Even rent as agreed upon does not seem to have been enhanced and deposited with the local civic body”.
“It was found that terms and conditions of the lease deed have been blatantly violated by the occupiers by raising (an) additional building in the leased premises and thereafter sold the property to various persons, including non-agriculturalists, without seeking permission,” says the report.
“Accordingly, the occupation of the heirs of the late Harbans Kaur, the original lessor, can’t be termed as that of the lessees. As per the documents, the (land) occupation appears to be illegal,” observes Sood in his 147-page report submitted to the government last month.
The commission also picks hole in the purchase of 27 hectares land by school authorities Jan 28, 2010.
The report says DPS constituted an educational society, headed by Charanjit Kaur, and purchased land on the basis of the society being an agriculturalist. The school in its reply to the commission says it’s competent to purchase the properties on the basis of an agriculturalist certificate given by the competent government authority Jan 23, 2010.
Sood observes that “the certificate of agriculturalist so issued was in itself an illegality as mere entry in the name of the head of the institution, who is in possession of the property so purchased, does not make the owner in possession an agriculturalist”.
The report says in view of the original ‘patta’ of 1937, the school building so built could not have been erected nor the original building could be sold in view of the terms of the original lease deed. Thus the occupation/sale of the entire premises is illegal and in violation of Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act of 1972.
Principal G.S. Dhillon however sought to dispel apprehensions about initiation of action against the school.
“There seems to be some communication gap (between the school authorities and the commission). All property transactions were carried out by the school society and not by any functionary in his/her capacity,” Dhillon told IANS.
He said the new construction was done after demolition of a portion of the old built-up structures with permission of the authorities concerned.