Rapping the state government for “thrusting” an employee on a city-based minority school, the Bombay High Court has quashed the state’s “wholly arbitrary” and “illegal” order directing Canossa Society, which runs the Canossa Special School in Mahim, to absorb the surplus non-teaching staffer.
Clarifying that the law confers “no such authority and power”, a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and G S Kulkarni ruled on May 7 that the state could not “thrust an employee rendered surplus in other schools to be absorbed by a minority institution.” The society had challenged a June 17, 2011 state government order which had asked Canossa Special School to absorb Ayub Khan, identified as a surplus employee, failing which the school’s registration would be cancelled.
The bench pointed out it was the fundamental right of a minority educational institution to establish and administer an institution of its choice. “Merely because aid has been granted to a minority institution, it would not lose its character as a minority institution and cease to enjoy constitutional guarantee conferred on it by virtue of the provisions of Article 30 of the Constitution of India,” the judges said.
The state had relied on an earlier judgment of the Aurangabad bench of the HC that had directed it to comply with provisions of Rule 25 A of the Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (Conditions of Service) (MEPS) Rules 1981. “Surplus employees in aided schools, whose services are terminated on account of de-recognition or closure and who are, thus, rendered surplus, would be kept in the waiting list and would be absorbed in other schools on appropriate vacancies,” the rule says.
However, the HC said the rule could not be applied to minority institutions unless consulted and agreed upon by the institute. Earlier, on May 3, 2011, the school had received a showcause notice asking why the government should not cancel a 2006 appointment made by the school. The notice also stated that the school had not obtained a no-objection certificate for the appointment.
On September 3, 2006, the school had appointed one Jyotsna Thorat on probation for a year with an initial pay of Rs 2,000. The special district welfare officer approved the appointment on August 18, 2007. Replying to this showcause, the school told the government it had followed all the rules in the book in appointing Thorat.