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Headmistress not entitled to control over school as a matter of right: Bombay High Court

A headmaster or headmistress cannot claim powers to control financial and administrative matters of the school as a matter of right, and it is for the school management to decide whether to confer such power on the individual concerned, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Monday.

education Updated: Jun 10, 2019 08:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
headmaster school rights
File photo of Bombay High Court(HT File)

A headmaster or headmistress cannot claim powers to control financial and administrative matters of the school as a matter of right, and it is for the school management to decide whether to confer such power on the individual concerned, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Monday.

“She (headmistress) cannot claim the same to be entrusted to her as a matter of right,” a division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Nitin Jamdar said while dismissing the petition filed by Geeta Chawla, headmistress of Gangaram Sindh National High School at Ulhasnagar.

Chawla was initially appointed as primary teacher in the school and in November 1994 she was promoted to the post of headmistress. After a first information report (FIR) was registered against her, which she claimed was an act of revenge by the school management, she was suspended in August 2014.

Chawla then moved the HC challenging the suspension. During the course of hearing on her petition, on May 6, 2016, the school management assured the HC that it would withdraw her suspension.

Accordingly, the management passed an order on May 12, 2016 revoking her suspension and allowing her to resume the post of headmistress, but without administrative or financial powers. The management claimed that it had lost faith in entrusting financial matters to Chawla.

Chawla then filed another petition seeking full back wages for the period of suspension contending that the action was not justified. She also sought a direction to the school management to entrust her the financial and administrative duties associated with the post.

The bench expressed inability to pass any order as regards the claim of full back wages, saying whether the suspension was justified or not was a matter to be decided in an in-house inquiry.

As regards the claim on financial and administrative powers, the judges said the petitioner was being paid the salary of headmistress, but it was for the school management to decide whether to confer the powers on the headmistress. Therefore, the HC said, no relief could be granted to the petitioner.

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 08:14 IST