New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld the termination of 8,882 ad-hoc teachers in Tripura, who were working in the School Education Department.
A bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and Vineet Saran said, "In our view, considering the fact that the very selection and appointments were found to be illegal and invalid, no other advantage can be conferred upon the concerned candidates." The bench said that it must be noted that the attempt on the part of the state in offering certain alternate employment is not to degrade the teachers and some solace is being offered even in cases where the candidates do not succeed in the selections to the posts of teachers.
"The candidates, if they are otherwise competent and eligible, will certainly have every opportunity till March 31,2023 to get selected for the posts of teachers in the state and by way of additional benefit those who are unsuccessful in such attempts may retain the alternate employment. In our view, it does not amount to any degradation", said the bench.
In 2014, the Tripura High Court had terminated the appointment of 10,323 government school teachers citing that the selection was contrary to the provisions of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993. The High Court said that the appointments were arbitrary and illegal and suffered due to nepotism and favouritism. The Supreme Court in 2017 modified the High Court order and directed the state government to complete a fresh selection process on or before December 31, 2017. 8882 ad-hoc teachers were terminated on the completion of academic session 2019-20 in accordance with directions issued by the apex court.
"The questions concerning the legality and validity of the entire selection process and the appointments of about 10,323 teachers were gone into in detail in the Tanmoy Nath case (verdict). The findings rendered by the High Court and its conclusions were accepted by this court while dismissing the appeals arising therefrom. It is a matter of record that the services of such candidates now stand terminated", noted the bench.
The top court said that the state is obliged to conduct a selection process in which the concerned candidates will be entitled to participate with age relaxation. "The age relaxation has now been afforded by the State in all selections till March 31, 2023," added the bench.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the state government submitted that the selection and appointments were set aside by the High Court vide its decision in the Tanmoy Nath case, as being arbitrary and illegal; and that it was found by the High Court that the selection was based purely on oral interview and suffered from nepotism and favouritism. Singh argued that the state government had afforded adequate opportunity to the concerned candidates by giving age relaxation and apart therefrom no other benefit could be extended to such candidates.
Since 2010, a total of 10,323 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate teachers were appointed in different phases, and this was challenged in the Tripura High Court. The teachers were supposed to retire after December 31, 2017 in accordance with the top court verdict. Later, they were inducted on an ad-hoc basis. In 2018, the BJP-IPFT government came to power and it appealed before the top court, which granted a one-time final extension till March 31, 2020.