Thursday, 11 June 2009

PIL or Contempt Petition for Stopping Deployment of Teachers in Non Teaching Duties?

PIL or Contempt Petition for Stopping Deployment of Teachers in Non Teaching Duties?

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) a human rights organisation working in Assam, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition in the Gauhati High Court on the issues that deployment of teachers of government and government aided schools in non-teaching duties such as census, electoral roll preparation, roll revision, conduct of election to the Gaon Panchayats, Municipal Corporations, State Assembly, National Parliament, pulse polio drive etc. disrupts the academic schedule of these schools. According to State Report Card (Raw Data)-2006-07, as many as 51768 teachers in Assam were involved in non-teaching duties losing 23.71% of teaching days. The BHRPC estimated that the figure is almost same for the academic year 2007-08.

More over, no appointment to the posts of teachers has been made since 1994. There are as many as 35% primary schools in Assam are single teacher schools in 2007-08 according to the District Information for School Education (DISE) system. The increase in the number of single teacher schools is telling:

All Schools

All Schools

All Schools

Primary Schools









The BHRPC enumerated that there are more than 650 single teacher schools in Cachar, a small district among 28 districts in the state.

Consequently, students from these schools perform very poorly in the Board Examinations in comparison to the students of private schools. Virtually their education ends at the threshold of higher education. It is almost impossible for them to get admission into colleges and professional institutes. The certificate of primary education given to the students who pass school exams with poor score is of no use to them because it can’t fetch a seat in an institute of higher education; leave aside the question of a job.

The Government and Government aided schools, therefore, fail to provide equal opportunity to the students from poorer strata of the society, who study in such schools and can’t afford to study in private schools or get private tuition unlike their counter part from the well-off families.

As the constitution of India has provided right to equal opportunity to all under Article 14, right to education under Article 21A and 45, the frequent deployment of teachers of Government and Govt. aided schools in non-teaching duties resulting in virtual shut down of schools for substantial period depriving the students of their rights amount to violations of fundamental rights enshrined in these Articles.

The similar questions were also raised in the Supreme Court of India in Civil Appeal No. 5659 of 2007 (Election Commission of India Vs. St. Mary’s School and ors.) where it was held that the teachers should not ordinarily be put on non teaching duties in teaching days. The BHRPC also claimed that the directives passed in its Judgment & Order in this case is not implemented or acted upon by the Govt. of Assam and State Election Officer, Assam. It was prayed in the petition that the authorities may be directed to adhere to the order passed by the Supreme Court in the Saint Mary’s School case.

The petition was registered as PIL No. 17 of 2009 and heard on 6 March, 2009 by Chief Justice J Chelamswar and Justice Hrishikesh Roy. The Court observed that “(i)t may not be necessary for us to go into the factual details of the present petition as the prayer is too clear. In substance the petitioners seek the implantation of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

It is a constitutional mandate under Article 142 that any decree passed by the Supreme Court or order made by the Supreme Court shall be enforced through out the territory of India. If the petitioners for any reasons believe that the judgment of the Supreme Court is not being implemented in the state of Assam, in our considered view, the remedy is not to seek a further writ for implementation of the directions of Supreme Court in this court.”

The BHRPC has decided to move a contempt petition in the Supreme Court.

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