Teachers contesting in elections would mean a division of attendance to duties, that of a teacher and that as people’s representative.
There were 5 writ petitions filed before the Kerala High Court with regard to Rule 56 of the Kerala Education Rules and Section 2 (IV) of the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualifications) Act. These laws bestowed on the teachers of aided schools the power to contest in elections. These provisions were challenged on grounds of being violative of fundamental rights.
The petitioners were represented by Advocated B Harrylal, K Mohanakannan, S Vinod Bhatt, VA Muhammed and Alias M Cherian. The main contention raised by the petitioners was that Rule 56 of the Kerala Education Rules, 1959 was unconstitutional as it permitted aided school teachers to contest in elections. This would lead to discrimination and violation of fundamental rights of the students. The main contention raised by the petitioners was that the teachers of government schools were not permitted to contest in elections, however the teachers in government aided schools were exempted from the said rule. The argument raised was that this provision was being misused as teachers neglect their primary duty which is teaching students. This was causing the right to education of the child to be violated. It was also in contravention of the legislative intent as mentioned under the Right to Education Act, 2009 (Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act).
The defendants contended that the aided school teachers were not stripped of their political rights. This means that they were bestowed upon the right to participate in elections by virtue of the rules that were formulated by the government. As per Rule 56, aided-school teachers who are appointed as presidents or chairpersons of local bodies are eligible for special leave without pay. The government pleader submitted that this would amount to increments and higher pay. It was also submitted by the defendant’s counsel that the government granted 20 days of leave for those teachers who participated in elections. It was also contended that the teachers who were part of the legislative assembly was granted special leave for the period of assembly session or one academic year or entire period of membership in the Assembly.
The Court in its judgement stated that Section 2 (IV) of the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualifications) Act to be unconstitutional in nature. The Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly in the judgement held that teachers of aided schools participating in elections were violative of Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution. The Court held that teachers juggling between duty as a public representative and a teacher would result in the violation of Articles 14, and 21 of the students getting violated. The Court stated that the said decision would be prospective in nature.
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