The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the plea by contractual teachers who been terminated from service as they failed to qualify in the Meghalaya Teachers Eligibility Test (MTET).
The High Court gave its judgement today on a batch of petitions filed by the contractual teachers who sought the court’s intervention after they were sacked from their job for not qualifying the MTET.
In a judgement passed today, Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew said, “These writ petitions in view of the earlier judgment of this court, and the fact that, the petitioners are all on contractual service, no grounds have been made out, or are available for grant of any the reliefs, as prayed.”
“The writ petitions accordingly stand dismissed,” the court said.
However, in a relief to seven teachers, the High Court directed the State government to accord due consideration to allow them to participate in any further selection for the post of assistant teacher since they have qualified the MTET examination.
The seven teachers are petitioners in WP(C) Nos. 400, 403, 407, 409, 414 of 2020, and WP(C) Nos. 83 and 84 of 2021.
The teachers are Laljoy Darnei, Thlamuana Darnei, Mary Jone Ngamlai, Lalchonpari Theite, Samiran Rishi, Phikirbha Khariah and Arbihlang Suchiang. They are stated to have since qualified the MTET examination,
It may be mentioned that the writ petitioners are all teachers appointed in various institutions as assistant teachers on contractual basis, prior to the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and the NCTE notification No. 76-4/2010/NCTE/Acad dated 23rd August, 2010.
With the coming into force of the NCTE norms from August 23, 2010, only those teachers who fulfilled the MTET were to be considered eligible for appointment as assistant teachers in lower and upper primary schools, which the petitioners apart from petitioners in WP(C) Nos. 400, 403, 407, 409, 414 of 2020, and WP(C) Nos. 83 and 84 of 2021, do not possess.
The plea however, in all these writ petitions are common, that the NCTE norms, be not made applicable to them, as they were all appointed before the date of implementation that is August 23, 2010, and secondly, that in view of their contractual service which is over ten years, they be regularised in their posts.
P Yobin, H R Nath and S Deb, the lawyers appearing for the petitioners, in the series of writ petitions, have jointly advanced their submissions on the foundation of legitimate expectation of the petitioners, who have served for periods of approximately over ten years.
The lawyers contended that, as most of the petitioners except for petitioners in WP(C) Nos. 470 and 56 of 2021, and WP(C) Nos. 458 and 438 of 2020, were appointed before the cut-off date of August 23, 2010, and since they possessed other valid qualifications, the requirement of passing the MTET should not apply to them.
It has been further contended that, though the appointments were temporary in nature, none of them were illegal, and that all the petitioners, for the duration of their service since the initial engagement, before it was not renewed, served continuously without any break.
Advocate General Amit Kumar with Additional Advocate General N D Chullai assisted by government lawyers R Colney and Z E Nongkynrih told the High Court that the petitioners do not possess the basic minimum qualification of passing the MTET, and as such, cannot be considered for regularization since it goes against the mandate as stipulated in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 that it is mandatory to possess the minimum qualification as laid down, by the academic authority, authorised by the Central government.
Kumar then told the High Court that in terms of Section 2 and 23(1) of the Right to Education Act, especially in the first proviso to Section 23(2), it has been provided that a teacher who at commencement of the Act does not possess minimum qualification should acquire the same within a period of five years.
He further told the court that by the subsequent amendment in 2017, it has been further provided that four years’ time, with effect from April 1, 2015, is allowed to every teacher appointed or in position of a teacher as on March 31, 2015, for acquiring the minimum qualification (MTET).