4 Dec 2023 5:20 AM GMT
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently set aside a state government order appointing an administrator over an Ashram School in Nanded District on the ground that one of the teachers had secured employment elsewhere with the connivance of the headmaster.A division bench of Justice Mangesh S Patil and Justice Neeraj P Dhote held that the order is unsustainable as the reason for...
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently set aside a state government order appointing an administrator over an Ashram School in Nanded District on the ground that one of the teachers had secured employment elsewhere with the connivance of the headmaster.
A division bench of Justice Mangesh S Patil and Justice Neeraj P Dhote held that the order is unsustainable as the reason for the appointment of the administrator does not fall within the 12 circumstances given in clause 3.2 (Appointment of Administrator) of the Ashram School Code.
“Ex facie, the allegations about a teacher having worked at two places to the knowledge of the headmaster is a circumstance not contemplated in any of these clauses. Even the impugned communication does not expressly mention as to under which of these categories alleged misconduct of the teacher and the headmaster would fall. Even the affidavit in reply is conspicuously silent and does not seek to address this issue”, the court observed.
The court further observed that the Deputy Secretary, Other Backward Bahujan Welfare Department, who issued the order, had no power to appoint an administrator under the Ashram School Code read with section 3 of the Educational Institute Management Act, 1976.
The communication by the state government, dated August 21, 2023, directed the appointment of the Regional Deputy Director, Other Backward Bahujan Welfare Department, as an administrator over the petitioner's school and sought a proposal for cancellation of the school's permission. Mataji Educational Institution, the school management, filed the present writ petition challenging this communication.
Advocate RJ Godbole for the petitioners argued that according to clause 3.2 of the Ashram School Code read with section 3 of the1976 Act, only specific authorities, namely the Assistant Director, Assistant Commissioner, District Social Welfare Officer, were empowered to appoint an administrator. He pointed out that the impugned communication had been issued by the Deputy Secretary, a position lacking the authority to pass such an order.
Godbole further contended that the action is too drastic for the misconduct of one of its teachers and the allegations about the headmaster having connived with that teacher. Even if it is assumed that the headmaster and the teacher had connived when the teacher, despite being engaged in the school had secured some other employment for some time, the management cannot be blamed, he argued.
Godbole argued that even if there were instances of misconduct, they did not fit into the categories outlined in clause 3.2 of the Code. This clause enumerates 12 circumstances warranting the appointment of an administrator, and the petitioner contended that none of these grounds applied to the school.
AGP SR Yadav-Lonikar for the State asserted that there were serious irregularities in the school's management, justifying the appointment of an administrator. The AGP argued that the headmaster and the teacher had acted to the detriment of the school's welfare, laying the foundation for the department's intervention.
The court observed that neither the impugned order nor the affidavit in reply to the writ petition expressly mentioned the legal provisions justifying the appointment of an administrator. The court, relying on clause 3.2 of the Code, reiterated that only specific authorities have the power to appoint an administrator.
“The secretary of the Other Backward Bahujan Welfare Department has by the impugned communication appointed the respondent no. 2 who is the Regional Deputy Director as the administrator. Irrespective of the sustainability of the reason for invoking the power under clause 3.2, when this provision expressly requires and empowers only the specific authorities to pass the orders, the impugned communication / order is clearly sans any power”, the court held.
Thus, the court allowed the writ petition and quashed the impugned order. If the charge has been taken over by the administrator, the court ordered it to be immediately restored to the petitioners.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 11062 of 2023
Case Title – Mataji Educational Institution and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.
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