The Supreme Court dismissed a series of petitions by teachers against the termination of their services. The Bench held that when the very employment was declared illegal, they cannot afford any benefit to the employee.
Brief Facts of the Case
The present appeal finds its origin in a 2017 judgment of the SC in Sri Tanmoy Nath v State of Tripura. In that case, 10,323 teachers’ appointments were challenged. The High Court held that these appointments were contrary to the provisions of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993. The Court held them to be arbitrary and illegal. It was appealed against in the Supreme Court. The Apex Court in 2017 rejected the appeals as they failed to find any grounds to interfere with the impugned order. They made certain modifications and directed the State to start a fresh selection process.
As per record, 8,882 ad-hoc teachers were employed in the Education department, and keeping in mind the Tanmoy Nath judgment their employment was to be terminated after 2019-20.
The teachers started approaching the High Court again, but the Court dismissed the applications. They are seeking a review of the earlier judgment, which is impermissible by law and the doctrine of merger. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court.
Arguments by the Appellants
Various groups of appellants filed several appeals. The following arguments were advanced:
- The Counsel for a group of appellant alleged that over 20,000 posts are vacant, but only 4,300 have been appointed. Hence, the teachers whose services were terminated should be reappointed.
- Despite the age relaxation and alternate employment given, the teachers would face certain issues like — Their past service would be unaccounted.
– They would start at the bottom.
– It would be degradation if they are offered a post in Group-C or D.
Arguments by the Respondent
The Senior Advocate appearing for the State reiterated the ruling of Tanmoy Nath’s case. He further submitted that when the employment itself is illegal, the past service cannot be recognized. The Government has afforded the teachers with adequate opportunity by way of age relaxation and alternate employment.
The Counsel refuted the appellant’s claims alleging a vacancy of over 20,000 posts. He said they were incorrect and included figures from a notification published earlier that is subject to a Contempt case.
The Court observed that the employment of these ad-hoc teachers had already been extended from 2017 to 2020. “It is a matter of record that the services of such candidates now stand terminated.”
The age relaxation afforded by the State is adequate. Considering that the very appointment has been held to be illegal, no extra advantage can be conferred upon the candidates.
The Court opined that offering alternate employment is not degrading the candidates. It is to provide some solace to them, even if they fail the selection procedure. The candidates have full opportunity to apply and, if eligible, get selected for the posts till 31.03.2023.
The Division Bench comprising of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice U.U. Lalit failed to find any substance in the appeals and thus dismissed the same.
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