In the Case of Supriya Mukhopadhyay v The State of West Bengal & Ors, the Petitioners filed a writ petition. It challenges the amendment to the West Bengal School Service Commission Act, 2017. The amendment introduced a new section 10 (c) in the Act. It enables the State Government to transfer teachers. The petitioners were transferred under this provision.
The amendment aims to enable the proper Teacher-Student Ratio. It applies to 14,000 odd secondary schools. It allows the government to transfer surplus staff from one institution to another facing shortfall.
The petitioners filed the petition within 48 hours of resumption of the court. They have challenged the transfer orders issued to them and others in the school. They have also challenged the release order dated 6th June 2020.
Arguments of the Petitioner
Mr Bari, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners cited an unreported order dated February 3, 2020. A coordinate Bench in WP No.230(W) of 2020 passed this order. This order challenged the validity of the amended section 10 (c), applied in the case. He used this order to support the petitioner’s plea against the transfer.
Further, Sec. 10 (c) was incorporated after the appointment of the petitioners. He argued that these provisions cannot be applied retrospectively. He added that transfer orders were issued to both Teaching and Non-Teaching staff.
The Advocate General questioned the said transfers considering all schools are closed. He questioned the transfer of both teaching and non-teaching staff from the same school. Further, he alleged that the transfers are tainted with malafide, considering the lockdown.
He further submitted that that service employees can resist change in initial service rules. The employee can insist on freezing them at the juncture. He added that this was a well-settled in service jurisprudence. In light of these facts, he submitted that the transfers were vindictive. He argued that there could not be any administrative reason for transfers during the lockdown.
Arguments of the Respondent
Advocate General Kishor Datta appeared for the Government. He submitted that the amendment intended to improve the academic standards of state-aided schools. Thus, the rationalizing of teachers and other staff is reasonable.
Observations of the Court
After hearing both sides, the Court found some merit in the petitioner’s submissions. The Court said that there were some traces of malafide intention on prima facie hearing. The Court also questioned the amended provision and its application.
It asked the respondents to file an affidavit in opposition.
The Court kept the case open for further hearing. But, it directed the government to stay the transfers until the final order. In the meantime, It directed the payment of salaries to the petitioners.
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