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Kerala Education Rules | Only State-Authorised Officer Empowered To Extend Higher Secondary School Teachers' Suspension Beyond 15 Days: High Court

Hannah M Varghese
27 Jun 2022 7:15 AM GMT
Kerala Education Rules | Only State-Authorised Officer Empowered To Extend Higher Secondary School Teachers Suspension Beyond 15 Days: High Court
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The Kerala High Court recently observed that according to the proviso to Rule 67(7) of Chapter XIVA of Kerala Education Rules (KER), sanction to extend the period of suspension of a teacher in Higher Secondary School can only be granted by the officer authorised by the Government, and not by the Director of General Education (DGE). Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas added that though the power...

The Kerala High Court recently observed that according to the proviso to Rule 67(7) of Chapter XIVA of Kerala Education Rules (KER), sanction to extend the period of suspension of a teacher in Higher Secondary School can only be granted by the officer authorised by the Government, and not by the Director of General Education (DGE). 

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas added that though the power of suspension is only with the school Manager and for the first 15 days the said power is absolute, the subsequent power to extend the period of suspension is a regulated power.

"The statutory regulations as far as Higher Secondary Schools are concerned obligate an officer authorised by the Government alone to grant previous sanction to continue the period beyond 15 days. In other words, only the authorized officer can grant sanction extending the period of suspension beyond 15 days."

The petitioner being the Manager of a Higher Secondary School suspended the fourth respondent (Principal) in 2020 but the order of suspension was soon set aside by the High Court. Immediately thereafter, the petitioner again suspended the fourth respondent. Although she alleged that this act amounted to contempt, the Court closed the contempt case observing that if there was a violation of the statute, the remedy was to challenge it.

Meanwhile, the petitioner filed a plea seeking a direction to the DGE to consider his request for extension of the suspension period imposed on the fourth respondent. The Court ordered that a decision in the matter had to be taken within two weeks. Accordingly, the fourth respondent was directed to be reinstated in service.

However, the fourth respondent was kept under suspension since 23.09.2020 and no subsistence allowance was paid to her after February 2021. This was challenged before the High Court 

The fourth respondent contended that the DGE had declined the petitioner's request for extension of the suspension order because a sanction is required to continue the suspension of a teacher over 15 days. It was argued that the petitioner had obtained a direction to the DGE to consider the representation for that reason. 

Further, the fourth respondent pleaded that on the expiry of the initial period of suspension, she should have been re-inducted since the suspension was set aside by the Court. Instead, the petitioner had issued another suspension order for which an extension was also sought.

She also pleaded that as per Rule 67 of Chapter XIVA of Kerala Education Rules, a teacher whose suspension has not been extended is duty-bound to be reinstated. Since the order of suspension was set aside by this Court, she was entitled to salary from 23-09-2020 to 04–07-2021, excluding the 15 days from 07-04-2021. It was further pleaded that even otherwise, salary is liable to be paid to the fourth respondent from 22.04.2021.

Advocate Kodoth Sreedharan appeared for the petitioner, Advocate P.C.Sasidharan appeared for the fourth respondent and Senior Government Pleader Nisha Bose also appeared in the matter.

The Court noted that in Varghese v. Deputy Director of Education [2000 (2) KLT 109], the High Court held that Rule 67 of chapter XIVA of the KER will not apply to the Higher Secondary Schools. However, as per Government Order in 2009, the provisions against the teaching and non-teaching staff of aided schools shall apply mutatis mutandis to the teaching and non-teaching staff of Aided Higher Secondary Schools.

Subsequently, the proviso to Rule 67 and Rule 68 of Chapter XIVA of KER was amended in 2019. In view of the above amendment, Rules 67 and 68 apply to the teachers of Higher Secondary Schools as well. Therefore, the decision in Varghese's case (supra) cannot have any application anymore. 

The Court also noted that no authorisation was issued by the Government empowering the DGE to extend the period of suspension. Thus, it was held that in the absence of any officer having been authorised to grant sanction to extend the period of 15 days of suspension, the Government alone can extend the period. The DGE cannot grant sanction to extend the period of suspension.

Therefore, in the eyes of law, there is no application filed by the petitioner before the proper authority to extend the period of suspension.

Since in the absence of an order extending the suspension period beyond 15 days the teacher is entitled to reinstatement in service, it was found that the impugned order directing her to be reinstated in service does not call for any interference. 

The petition was accordingly dismissed.

Case Title: Rev. T.G. Johnson v. State of Kerala & Ors. 

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 304

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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