22 Oct 2021 11:30 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Thursday warned an Assistant Educational Officer of contempt proceedings under Article 215 of the Constitution, for his repeated circumvention from the orders of the Court. Justice Devan Ramachandran pulled up the AEO for proceeding with contempt despite being given several opportunities:"When this court notices obstinate belligerence from the respondent answering...
The Kerala High Court on Thursday warned an Assistant Educational Officer of contempt proceedings under Article 215 of the Constitution, for his repeated circumvention from the orders of the Court.
Justice Devan Ramachandran pulled up the AEO for proceeding with contempt despite being given several opportunities:
"When this court notices obstinate belligerence from the respondent answering a contempt charge it will certainly have to be taken with the seriousness it deserves".
The Court was adjudicating upon a contempt plea moved by a teacher alleging that the AOE continued to interdict her salary despite orders from the bench.
"I will initiate action under Article 215. I'm restraining myself from taking any action solely because I don't want to detrimentally affect his family. But that does not mean they can put a price on our leniency."
The Court also noted that to make matters worse, even though the respondent was obligated to remain present in person in court, he had chosen not to do so, and no application to condone his absence was filed.
"Prima facie therefore, this court finds the respondent to be in gross contempt of the order of this court and I am of the view it is a matter for the higher authorities to decide whether he should remain in service any further since he can certainly cause havoc in the system going by the intransigence exhibited by him in this case."
It further added that despite repeated opportunities, the respondent chose to respond to this court in a 'very casual and lackadaisical manner', circumventing the orders of the court with persistent efforts to vary the approval of the petitioner.
The matter has been posted on 2nd November and the respondent has been directed to appear in person as the court proposes to frame charges against him and continue with the case.
"I did not want to do this at all in my career, but you are forcing me. This man has to go. This is a very dangerous trend. I am getting letters saying that judgments from the court are treated like trash. I will put an end to it now."
Advocate Varun C Vijay appeared for the petitioner and Senior Government Pleader Surya Binoy appeared for the respondent.
The petitioner is a lower primary school teacher who approached the Court earlier this year aggrieved by a communication issued by the AEO to the Manager of the school, directing him not to pay or disburse her salary citing certain objections with respect to the approval of her appointment.
However, the petitioner was statutorily approved by the competent educational authority earlier. The Court noted that objections to such approval had to be addressed by the authorities having jurisdiction in the manner and order mentioned in Kerala Education Rules (KER).
The power to do so is vested only with the Director of General Education (DGE), under the provisions of KER.
Accordingly, on 4th March 2021, the Bench ruled that as long as the approval of the petitioner continues, the same will hold the field and will have to be honoured by all the Authorities under the Kerala Education Act and the Rules.
Hence, it was categorically held that the AEO cannot unilaterally issue a communication interdicting the payment of salary to the petitioner.
However, the petitioner approached the Court in August with a Contempt Petition alleging that the AEO was still initiating recovery steps in violation of the Court's order.
Despite several warnings, the respondent failed to comply with the order of the Court.
Last month, the Government Pleader submitted that the directions in the judgment have not been complied with solely because there was an audit objection. The Court found this submission not merely contumacious, but grossly improper and bordering on being illegal.
When the matter was taken again on 11th October, the Bench observed that it was distressing that the contempt case was still pending.
The respondent had appeared in person on that day, and submitted that he did not comply with the directions in the judgment because he was taking up the matter with 'Higher Authorities'.
Case Title: Ambika P v. Augustine Bernard Monthero