New Delhi: The Supreme Court has come down heavily on Bihar government for not implementing its 1977 notification that provided "promotional avenues" to secondary school teachers like other government employees.
"The attitude of the state government in this matter has caused unnecessary anxiety to a large number of teachers. The state government must realise that in a country where there is so much illiteracy and where there are a large number of first generation students, the role of the primary and secondary teachers is very important.
"They have to be treated honourably and given appropriate pay and chances of promotion. It is certainly not expected of the state government to drag them to the court in litigation for years altogether," a bench of justices Surinder Singh Nijjar and H L Gokhale said while allowing the plea of Bihar State Government Secondary School Teachers Association (BSGSSTA).
The teachers` body had moved the apex court seeking a direction to implement the 35-year-old notification which provided that their cadre be merged with grade-II officers of Bihar Education Service Association to provide "promotional avenues" to them also.
Justice Nijjar, writing the judgement, took strong exception to the fact that state government changed stands, delayed implementation of notification and pursued three rounds of litigations from high court to the Supreme Court.
The court also expressed its displeasure over the fact that a single judge and the division bench of the Patna High Court heard the matter afresh in third round of litigation, when it had already been decided by the Supreme Court.
"We do not expect such an approach from the state government and least from the high court," it said.
The apex court also ticked off the Patna High Court for ignoring the fact that the apex court had already heard and decided the matter.
"The hierarchy of the courts requires the high courts also to accept the decision of this Court, and its interpretation of the orders issued by the executive. Any departure therefrom will lead only to indiscipline and anarchy," the bench said, in its 42-page judgement.
"The high courts cannot ignore Article 141 of the Constitution which clearly states that the law declared by this Court is binding on all courts within the territory of India," it added.
"In the same vein we may state that when the judgement of a Court is confirmed by the higher court, the judicial discipline requires that Court to accept that judgement and it should not in collateral proceedings write a judgement contrary to the confirmed judgement."
Disposing of the appeals of teachers` body, it said, "We do record our strong displeasure for the manner in which the State of Bihar kept on changing its stand from time to time. This is not expected from the state government."
The court, however, said the chances of promotion for secondary teachers are "very less" and there was "serious stagnation" as far as subordinate teachers were concerned.
The teachers` body had raised the question of promotional avenues for them on the lines of Bihar Civil Services and Bihar Engineering Service and sought implementation of the notification.
The government-appointed committee, in its report, had said, "Education department may get the posts of engineers included in the cadre of the PWD and obtain their services on deputation basis...The remaining posts should be included in general cadre and manned by officers of Bihar Educational Service as far as practicable."
The report was accepted and a notification was issued on April 11, 1977, but, it was not implemented and that led to litigations in the high court and Supreme Court.
In one of the proceedings, the government said there was no proposal to merge sub-ordinate teachers into Bihar Education Service Class-II.
Ending first round of litigation, the apex court, in 2001, had asked the government to implement its notification.
Another round of litigation started in the high court and ended with the apex court issuing the similar direction.
However, in the third round, Bihar Education Service Class-II moved the high court alleging that teachers` group cannot be treated at par with them for promotion purposes.
The high court set aside the notification, leading the affected teachers` body to move the apex court again.
The apex court allowed the plea of teachers` body and rapped the government and criticised the high court for hearing the case after it had decided the issue.