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  • Private schools in Delhi cannot fire teachers without the government's nod: SC

    April 18, 2016

    The tension between the private educational institutions in Delhi and the Delhi government seems to touch new heights every week. A recent ruling from the Supreme Court now forbids recognized schools in Delhi from dismissing any employee, including teachers, without "prior approval" of the director of education.

    The decision was taken after a driver, who was employed by a private school was sacked by the head of the institution way back in 2003. The driver had not been given any prior notice and no information was given to him about the termination either. The case has been in court for quite some time now and finally, the apex court has ruled in the favor of the driver.

    In its judgment on April 13, SC upheld a provision in the Delhi School Education Act 1973 that requires all recognized schools to obtain the government's approval before sacking an employee. Interestingly, Section 8(2) of the DSEA 1973 had been struck down by the Delhi HC in 2005.

    The SC was quick in admitting that the Delhi High Court's decision in 2005 was not taken in the best interest of everyone. Terming the 2005 decision "bad in law", the apex court observed, "The intent of the legislature while enacting the same (Section 8(2)) was to provide security of tenure to employees of schools and to regulate the terms and conditions of their employment."

    Activists have lauded the efforts of the protesting teachers and the decision of the SC. According to them, this decision will keep in check the “victimization” of the teachers who dare to raise their voices against the arbitrary and not-so-justifiable decision of the school management. Many incidents have popped up regarding this issue in the past few months too.

    Teachers such as Asha Rani, Payal Singh (name changed on request), Dinesh Chand Sharma and their colleagues heaved a sigh of relief after the ruling was out. According to Asha Rani, 43, she was suspended from a school in Sector 15, Rohini, and two of her colleagues were fired for demanding full salary and benefits.

    "Our salaries were being transferred to our accounts but the management took signed, blank cheques from us and withdrew the money. Our actual salaries were being paid in cash," alleges Asha Rani. "Other Rohini schools sacked teachers too or they quit under pressure. With this judgment, schools will have to first take permission from the government."


    "It will check intimidation of teachers by managements and ensure job security for those who dare to fight exploitation. The inquiries may still be conducted internally but all documents will now have to be shared with the government," said lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha.

    Singh and Sharma were handed "compulsory retirement" by a private school in Civil Lines in 2014 after teaching there for 32 and 21 years, respectively. Not paid arrears after the fifth pay commission recommendations were implemented, they had filed a case against the school in high court in 2010. "Clearly, their performance was not the issue," said Jha.

    OUR TAKE

    While some people might question the decision of the SC, the majority would be in favor of the decision. On one hand those who have doubts about the decision are questioning the decision on the basis of the question - “Will government intervention in such matters solve the problem?”, the majority will be looking down upon the “laissez faire” way of doing things that the doubters might be hinting at. The defaulters would surely need to be booked and there is no doubt about that. The atrocities that these private schools have committed towards these teachers have to be taken into consideration. One thing is for sure. The Delhi government is in no way giving a clean chit to any private schools regarding administrative matters. The Delhi government has been a strict daddy to the private educational institutions in Delhi, as it should have been since the very beginning. The freedom that these private schools have enjoyed has in some ways, made them act in such a manner. Things do look bright in the future though for the teachers, students and parents.


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