Srinagar: The government’s Fee Fixation and Regulation Committee (FFRC) has been rendered headless after the tenure of its chairman ended on November 13 this year.
The fee panel has been rendered headless at a crucial time when the complaints continue to pour in against some private schools over fleecing parents under one or the other pretext.
Besides FFRC, the government has also left J&K Board of School Education (BOSE) and J&K SCERT headless for more than six months now, which has taken a toll on these institutions.
The FFRC, BOSE, and SCERT have been left headless at a very crucial time, which has raised concerns among the stakeholders.
The government on November 9, 2020, had appointed Justice (Retd) Muzaffar Hussain Attar as Chairman FFRC for a period of two years.
The appointment came into effect from the date on which the chairman assumed the charge of the post in the committee.
However, the J&K government in May this year notified in its rules that the term of the chairman FFRC would be for three years.
But the government did not clarify whether the new rules would be given retrospective and prospective effect.
“Given the uncertainty in the tenure of the chairman FFRC, the incumbent chairman left the office on the day his two-year term ended. He is not attending the office since then as the government has not issued any order to clear the ambiguity,” an official said.
The official said that the government was conveyed about the expiry of the two-year term of the chairman and requested to sort out the issue.
“It is up to the government to decide if they want to continue Justice (Retd) Attar for one year or if they want to implement the new rules after appointment of new chairman,” the official said.
As the issue has been caught in official wrangles, the stakeholders have expressed concern over the government’s move to leave the fee panel defunct.
“Leaving the panel headless at this crucial time will make it defunct as no decisions will be taken by the committee,” said a private school owner.
In the wake of the government’s decision to shift to March academic session, many schools had started charging annual fees and other fees from the students citing extension in the session.
Most of the issues are currently pending with the committee over the mis-communication and mis-understanding about the change in the academic session.
“The government should either appoint a new chairman or allow the present chairman to continue for a year as we cannot afford to have this committee defunct at this juncture,” said Shafat Ahmad, a parent from Srinagar.
Also, the School Education Department (SED) on April 24, 2022 put the posts of Chairman JKBOSE and Director JKSCERT to advertisement following the constitution of two separate committees by the General Administration Department (GAD) for the appointment of the Chairman J&K Board and Director JKSCERT.
The last date for applying for the post of Chairman JKBOSE and Director J&K SCERT was fixed as May 25, 2022.
However, on June 25, the government constituted the search committee afresh which further delayed the appointment of the candidates for the post of Chairman JKBOSE and Director SCERT.
Around five months have passed since the government constituted the new committee.
However, both the institutions continue to be headless which has taken a toll on the routine functioning of both the institutions.
“Decisions on all official matters get delayed. Some crucial matters are supposed to be discussed at the chairman level. All the policy matters get delayed due to the non-availability of a permanent chairman,” an official said.
Notably, the charge of Chairman J&K Board and Director SCERT has been given to the Principal Secretary SED as his additional assignment.
“The Principal Secretary is already overburdened with different administrative matters and it is not possible for him to handle the Board and SCERT matters simultaneously,” the official said.
Despite repeated attempts, advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Rajiv Rai Batnagar and Principal Secretary of SED, Alok Kumar were not available for their comments on the issue.