How can a Class 7 pass be a member of the education department in the municipal corporation?
When a petition revealed this fact, the Bombay High Court directed the state government to update the archaic Primary Education Act, 1947, within three months.
The provisions of the Act prescribe that a nominated member of the department clear at least Primary School Certificate Examination [equivalent to current SSC examination] or any equivalent examination.
On Monday, the court was hearing a petition filed by former member of education department of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) Vikrant Chavan, who sought action against ineligible members and amendment to the obsolete Act.
Chavan is now general secretary of the Thane District Congress Committee.
The petition was filed after the Thane municipal polls in November 2008, five of the 13 nominated members did not meet the eligibility criteria.
“One of the members nominated by the government, Hemant Vani, is Class 7 pass. Also the members have to be scrutinised by the police, which was not done in this case,” alleged Chavan.
His advocate Neeta Karnik argued that there have been no amendments to the Act since 1947 — when it was enforced. “We have challenged the Act and asked that it be updated,” she added.
Karnik suggested “at least graduation” be a pre-requisite for nomination in the education department.
“Besides, they should have exemplary acumen in the field or have served in the field to be nominated in the education department,” she said.
“The present Act contemplates lesser qualified persons controlling staff [like teachers] who are more qualified than them.”
The division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice V.K. Tahilramani directed the state government to carry out the necessary amendments by pursuing the matter with the central government.
The government lawyer claimed that they have sent a draft amendment to the Centre four years ago, but it is yet to be cleared.
The high court also restrained the state government from either nominating or electing members till further orders.
The current appointments will also be subject to final outcome of the petition, the high court directed.