New Delhi, Oct 14, The Supreme Court Wednesday granted interim relief to over 3,600 teachers in Jharkhand by allowing them to continue in service as it sought response from the state government on pleas challenging the high court decision which had quashed its 'employment policy-2016'.
The Jharkhand High Court on September 21 quashed the policy which prescribed 100 percent reservation for 10 years in grade III and grades IV government jobs for local residents in 13 scheduled districts. It had also quashed the appointment process initiated nearly four years ago to recruit 8,423 assistant high school teachers in government-owned schools in the districts of Ranchi, Khunti, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, Latehar, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan, Sahibganj, Dumka, Pakur and Jamtara.
It had declared as null and void the appointment of over 3,600 teachers done till now, against a total of 8,423 posts. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy, and M R Shah issued a notice on a batch of pleas challenging the high court order and asked the petitioners to serve the copy of the pleas to be served on standing counsel for Jharkhand. The top court said that looking at the nature of issues involved in the matter, it is of the view that the matter needs early consideration and listed the plea along with intervention applications for further hearing on November 4. “In the meantime, those teachers, who are working in the scheduled district shall continue to work and shall not be displaced in pursuance of the impugned judgment of the high court. Interim relief till the next date of hearing,” the bench said. The top court also allowed intervention applications filed in the matter and asked the intervenors to file their affidavit within two weeks. Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, P S Patwalia and advocate Prashant Shukla, appearing for the petitioner Satyajit Kumar and others, said the high court in its verdict had relied on this year’s Constitution bench verdict in the case of Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao Versus Andhra Pradesh in which it was held that 100 percent reservation cannot be given to Schedule Tribes in schedule areas. The senior lawyers contended the constitution bench verdict was completely different from that of the facts of the case in Jharkhand as in the earlier case Andhra Pradesh had given 100 percent reservation to the only Schedule whereas, in the case of Jharkhand, 100 percent quota was not given to any particular caste rather all category of candidates can participate in the process of appointment. The Counsels for the petitioners further argued that in service matters PIL is not maintainable and the Jharkhand High Court has wrongly entertained a petition in service matter as a Public Interest Litigation. The high court had directed the state government to issue fresh advertisement for recruitment of teachers in scheduled districts after relaxing the upper age limit to the extent that candidates, who had applied in 2016, get a fresh chance to take this examination. It had said that the state government's employment policy, 2016, was unconstitutional as it provides 100 percent reservation infringing the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed under Article 13, 14, and 16 of the constitution. The PIL before the High Court had questioned the legality of an advertisement issued on December 28, 2016, by the state staff selection commission for the appointment of 17,572 (9149 and 8423 vacancies in 11 non-scheduled and 13 scheduled districts respectively) assistant high school teachers in government schools as it followed the reservation criteria mentioned in the 2016 employment policy. The PIL petitioner had also challenged clause 5(3) of teachers' recruitment advertisement which restrained candidates of non-scheduled districts from applying in scheduled districts as mentioned in the employment policy of 2016. The previous BJP government led by then chief minister Raghubar Das in the state had framed the employment policy, which came into force on July 14, 2016. According to it, all government jobs in grade III and grade IV in 13 scheduled districts are reserved for residents of the same district--living in Jharkhand before 1985. [READ ORDER]