The Meghalaya High Court has dismissed the plea by around 400 ad hoc school teachers who sought regularisation of their service even though they did not clear the Meghalaya Teachers Eligibility Test (MTET).
The petitioners were appointed as teachers in government lower and upper primary schools in the State on temporary/ad hoc basis for the period of 59 days and since then they have been continuing in service for the past two to ten years. While seeking regularisation in service, the petitioners also challenged the MTET examination which was held on January 31, 2019.
In a verdict passed today, Justice Ranjit More said, “Taking totality of the facts and circumstances of the case into consideration, in my view the petitions are devoid of any substance and the same are accordingly dismissed with no order as to cost.”
The judge observed that he cannot overlook the mandatory provisions of Section 23 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 especially the first and second proviso thereof.
“Under the first proviso, five years was given to the teachers to acquire the qualification prescribed under Sub section (1) of Section 23 and under the second proviso, the period of five years was extended to further four years from 2015. In the light of this mandatory statutory provision, the petitioners ought to have acquired the essential qualification namely, MTET before the period prescribed under second proviso. Unfortunately, the petitioners failed in the MTET examination held in the year 2019, therefore, the submission cannot be accepted,” Justice More observed.
According to the High Court, In the light of the mandatory provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009, the NCTE Act and notification and guidelines issued thereunder, the Meghalaya government was bound to conduct the MTET examination and include it as necessary qualification for eligibility to appointing teachers at lower and primary level schools.
The High Court also said that the petitioners were appointed on an ad hoc basis as a stop-gap arrangement for teaching children in lower and upper primary schools and therefore, a short term contractual appointment has been made.
“If the petitioners are not qualified to be appointed as permanent teachers for want of essential qualification namely, MTET, then in my considered view their services also cannot be regularised,” Justice More said in the order.
“It was obligatory on the part of the State of Meghalaya to employ teachers who are in compliance with the NCTE norms and have passed MTET. The State of Meghalaya accordingly held this examination on January 31, 2019, results of which were declared on February 25, 2020. The government thereafter initiated the process of recruitment in compliance with a statutory scheme requiring mandatory qualification of MTET,” the High Court observed.
“It is by now settled principle that temporary appointments have to be replaced with permanent employment of qualified persons made in accordance with the stipulated selection procedure. In earlier part of the judgment, I have observed that the State of Meghalaya held the MTET examination, however, the petitioners failed and thereafter, advertisement inviting applications of qualified candidates for appointment as teachers at lower and upper primary levels at schools was already issued. In the light of the above discussion, I hold that none of the petitioners are entitled for regularisation, therefore, their prayer for regularisation stands rejected,” Justice More stated.
Rejecting the plea by the petitioners for quashing and setting aside of the MTET examination conducted by the State government on January 31, 2019, the High Court said that “though the MTET examination was held on January 31, 2019, the petitions were filed only in the month of March, 2020 i.e. after a period of one year. There is no explanation whatsoever for this delay in the petition”.