Delhi HC orders regularisation of Kashmiri migrant teachers

It asked Delhi government, the East, South and North Delhi municipal corporations and New Delhi Municipal Council to pass orders within eight weeks so that the teachers are get regular appointment from the date of their first appointment.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the regularisation of over 200 Kashmiri migrant teachers who have been working in Delhi government and municipal schools on contract for over two decades, saying it was a "sad day" for the society that teachers have to move court for their rightful claim.

"The petitioners' hope of returning to their homes and for peace in the Valley, may not yet be attainable, but the acceptance of their claims should act as a balm, re-kindle their confidence in the society and our commitment to equality and equal opportunity," a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma observed.

It asked Delhi government, the East, South and North Delhi municipal corporations and New Delhi Municipal Council to pass orders within eight weeks so that the teachers are get regular appointment from the date of their first appointment.

In a 55-page verdict, the bench said "our society values teachers, who are venerated to the same level of parents, worthy of worship. It is a sad day for such a proud society that teachers have to reach out to courts for what is justly their due.

"That this was the case with migrant teachers who had to toil for these 20 years with less than the minimum scale, is a sad commentary for the state which in the first place could not assure the security and safety of their life and possessions that led them to flee their native state and become refugees, in a manner of speaking, in their own country," the bench said.

Several Kashmiri teachers, who were present in the court, thanked the judges and broke down after pronouncement of the verdict. There are an estimated over 200 such teachers working in these Delhi schools.

Threatened by large-scale communal violence in the Kashmir Valley in 1986, there was a mass exodus of Kashmiris to Jammu, Delhi and other nearby places, leaving their hearth and homes behind. Many of them were settled in camps by the Delhi government.

To provide employment to the educated migrants, the Delhi government had on April 2, 1994, decided to appoint one educated member from each migrant family as teacher depending on her or his suitability for the different categories of jobs.

In its order today, the court said the nomenclature of 'contract teachers' was artificial as these migrant teachers were appointed against regular vacancies and their services were unbroken.

It also noted that the teachers' appointments were pursuant to a constitutionally recognised procedure of advertisement and all of them held the requisite qualifications, including B.Ed, and were interviewed before their appointment.

"For these reasons, having regard to their unbroken employment for over two decades, ... the Kashmiri migrant teachers are entitled to be treated as regular appointees," the bench said.

It made it clear that these teachers will be entitled to provident fund benefit, gratuity, leave encashment and pension upon attaining the age of superannuation. They would be entitled for benefits, including arrears of 7th Pay Commission recomendations.

The benefits would also be extended to those Kashmiri migrant teachers who have retired or died during the pendency of the pleas. In case of death, the amount will be released to their legal representatives.

It also said that while making payments, the authorities should ensure that the tax deductions are spread out and minimum tax effect is felt by the teachers.

"Continuing to deprive teachers of their rightful status and denying them dignity, which inevitably follows with insecurity of service and pitiable service conditions, would result in our society's never being able to achieve these aims," it said.

The court observed it was "not in everybody's ken to be a teacher" who play an extraordinary part in the lives of their pupils in shaping their thoughts and personalities.

It dismissed the Delhi government's appeal challenging a 2015 order of a single judge of the High Court directing regularisation of the Kashmiri migrant teachers employed on contractual basis in government and municipal schools in the national capital since 1994.

The 2015 order of the High Court had come on the plea of the migrant teachers who were seeking equal pay and work benefits as well as regularisation of jobs, after their representations to the Centre and the Delhi government had failed to get them any relief.

The court was informed by the migrant teachers that the pay received by them for PGT category was Rs 32,712 and for TGT category was Rs 32,248, whereas for regular PGT it was more than Rs one lakh and for regular TGT it is between Rs 85,000 to Rs 90,000.

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