When the nation would be celebrating Teachers’ Day on Friday, some teachers in Maharashtra, who had been once awarded by the government for their work, would have little to cheer about. They are engaged in a legal battle with the state to get their “legitimate dues”.
‘Ideal teacher’ awardees in Maharashtra have been awaiting their salary increments that were discontinued in 2006. Every Teachers’ Day, the Maharashtra government felicitates over 100 teachers in different categories with ‘ideal teacher’ awards. The winners are decided once applications are received after a multiple screening process. The winning teacher receives a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a memento. Till 2005, the ‘ideal teachers’ also used to receive a cash benefit in the form of two increments in salary. The system was discontinued in 2006 after all teachers in the state were awarded benefits of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation. Over 760 primary and secondary ‘ideal teacher’ awardees from different parts of the state, including Pune, have been since waiting for their salary increments.
A group of such teachers from Amravati division has filed a petition in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, and the final verdict expected to be out soon.
Dilip Kalamkar, one of the petitioners, said ‘Ideal teacher’ awardees were left with no option but to seek legal aid as the state government failed to keep the promises it made towards teachers time to time.
“Even the chief minister and the education minister had assured us that dues towards two increments in the salary of ‘Ideal teachers’ would be released, those promises never turned into action. Moreover, all such promises made even in the state legislature in response to ‘calling attention motion’ remained hollow. Therefore, we were forced to knock the door of judiciary to get justice,” he told Newsline on Thursday.
“We have brought to the notice of the court how the government assured us in writing that salary benefits would be given to ‘ideal teacher’ awardees but never kept its word. In response, the government told the court that it was contemplating offering monetary benefits to such awardees with permission from the finance department. On this, we had presented our say before the government. The last hearing took place on Tuesday, during which the government pleader sought 15 days to file further affidavit,” said Kalamkar.
Raosaheb Awari, founder of the state-level association of secondary and higher secondary school principals, criticised the government for its “insensitive” and “disrespectful” attitude towards the teachers.
“The dues towards salary increments of ‘ideal teacher’ awardees in Maharashtra would not be more than a few crores of rupees. These teachers have been demanding their legitimate dues, which were promised by the government. It is unfortunate that teachers have to choose legal battle to get their rewards,” he said.
Sarjerao Jadhav, Director, Education (Secondary and Higher Secondary), refused to comment on the issue. “The issue is sub judice and therefore it will not be appropriate to comment on it. The government is presenting its side in the court. The interests of teachers will be taken into consideration,” he said.