As many as 10,323 school teachers in Tripura, who were engaged on an ad hoc basis after their contracts were terminated due to “unconstitutional” recruitment rules in 2017, on Thursday heaved a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court granted them a two-year extension in service.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Tripura Law Secretary Datamohan Jamatia said a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Kurien Joseph, passed the order after hearing a petition by the state government.
“The apex court has accepted our petition to extend the ad hoc engagement tenure of these school teachers till June 30, 2020. The state government was also asked to submit details of the action taken to publicize its scheme of sponsorship in B.Ed and D.El.Ed courses to hire new eligible candidates for filling up vacant positions”, the law secretary said.
Jamatia added that the top court has also asked the Centre to decide about relaxing B.Ed and D.El.Ed courses as minimum eligibility criteria for the recruitment of teachers.
The apex court will hold a review hearing of the affidavits from both the state and central governments after four months.
Welcoming the apex court’s move, Indrajit Majumder, convener of All Tripura Sarkari 10323 Ad Hoc Payee Karmachari Sangha, said, “We had trust on the judiciary and the state government. We believe it is the first step towards a permanent solution for our livelihood. Now, we have two years to complete B.Ed and D.El.Ed, which will enable us to secure a regular position after the ad hoc period gets over.”
Bhaskar Deb, secretary of Amra 10323, a Left-backed teacher’s organization, was also hailed the Supreme Court order and praised the BJP-IPFT government.
“The state government is worthy of a big thanks. They had pleaded before the Supreme Court to extend our job tenure. So, we have got this extension. This is a legal victory for the 10,323 teachers who have given years of their service in the state’s education system,” Deb told this correspondent.
Resolving the problem of the teachers was among the BJP’s pre-poll promises in Tripura. Referring to the poll promise, BJP general secretary Pratima Bhowmik today said the BJP government alone is capable of “saving” 10,323 teachers and had rightly done so.
“As I previously said, the only government which can save 10,323 teachers of Tripura is the BJP government. I welcome the Supreme Court verdict in this regard,” she said.
However, opposition CPI (M) and Congress termed the order as a “temporary relief”. “This is a temporary relief. It isn’t a permanent solution. The 10,323 teachers deserve a permanent solution,” CPI (M) state secretary Bijan Dhar said.
Pradesh Congress vice president Tapas Dey said while the top court’s order has provided relief to teachers fearing termination every day, however, the state government must formulate a policy to rehabilitate these teachers in suitable regular positions before the expiry of the ad hoc period.
The contracts of the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate teachers were terminated in 2014 by the Tripura High Court, which had termed the recruitment rules used for their induction as “unconstitutional”. The erstwhile Left Front government had challenged the verdict at the Supreme Court.
However, the apex court upheld the High Court verdict and terminated their jobs with effect from December 31, 2017. The terminated teachers were later absorbed in ad hoc positions for six months. The ad hoc tenure was further extended. Their tenure was supposed to end today.
In May this year, the BJP-IPFT government filed a petition with the Supreme Court and sought an extension of the contracts of these ad hoc teachers till 2020.
As per education department records, there are 7.29 lakh students across 4,928 schools in Tripura. However, there are only 40,658 teachers in service, including the terminated ones.
Faulty recruitment was one of CPI (M)’s nemesis in the February 18 Tripura assembly election this year. However, after coming to power, the BJP-led coalition government sought fresh applications for 12,222 vacant positions.