Reconsider draft policy on part-time instructors in primary schools: HC to State | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Reconsider draft policy on part-time instructors in primary schools: HC to State

BySahyaja MS
May 24, 2024 08:14 AM IST

The division bench of justices Nitin Jamdar and MM Sathaye emphasised that the policy failed to provide fair compensation and job security to candidates, thus undermining the quality of education and violating various constitutional and statutory provisions

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has ordered the Maharashtra government to reconsider its draft policy of appointing part-time instructors in primary schools run by Zilla Parishads across the state. The court found the draft policy, which proposed a lecture-based honorarium and contractual appointments for ten months, to be inconsistent with previous court rulings and statutory obligations of the government.

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The division bench of justices Nitin Jamdar and MM Sathaye emphasised that the policy failed to provide fair compensation and job security to candidates, thus undermining the quality of education and violating various constitutional and statutory provisions.

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In a series of writ petitions, part-time instructors teaching art, health and physical education, and work education challenged the government resolution dated 1 September 2017. The instructors argued that the policy was contrary to provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. They also cited a previous order of the Aurangabad bench of the high court, which had mandated the formulation of a policy ensuring permanent appointment for part-time instructors.

The court noted that despite multiple directions to create a permanent cadre and provide reasonable compensation, the state government’s new draft policy continued to offer inadequate pay and unstable employment terms. The policy proposed an honorarium of 75 per lecture, with a maximum of eight lectures per month, and contract appointments from June to April, leaving instructors unpaid for two months. This, the court ruled, was not in line with the expectations set by previous judgments and the RTE Act’s provisions.

A critical aspect of the case involved the issuance and subsequent misinterpretation of a status quo order. The court had initially issued this order to maintain existing conditions until a final decision could be made. However, the state misinterpreted this directive, leading to the unjust discontinuation of some part-time instructors. This misinterpretation caused undue hardship and instability for affected instructors, exacerbating the very issues the court sought to prevent with its interim order.

Furthermore, the RTE Act mandates the appointment of instructors for Art Education, Health and Physical Education, and Work Education in schools with a student population exceeding 100. The court highlighted that part-time instructors must be appointed in compliance with this statutory requirement, ensuring that schools meeting this threshold have the necessary educational support.

The court referenced a 2021 draft policy which had suggested a monthly honorarium of 7,000, which was deemed insufficient compared to the 14,000 paid in Kerala. The judges highlighted that the state could increase its contribution to provide more reasonable and fair compensation. They also pointed out the detrimental effects of hiring instructors on a short-term, ad-hoc basis, citing supreme court decisions that have condemned such as arbitrary and discriminatory.

On May 8, the court directed the state government to re-examine and amend its draft policy to comply with judicial directions and statutory requirements and present the same to the court by July 2. The policy must focus on enhancing the quality of education and providing fair employment conditions.

Additionally, the court ordered that part-time instructors should continue to receive a monthly honorarium of 7,000 until the new policy is implemented. It also mandated the reinstatement of instructors whose services had been discontinued due to a misinterpretation of a status-quo order, ensuring their placement in schools where student strength exceeds one hundred.

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