The Madras High Court on Monday quashed an order passed by the Joint Director of Higher Education on June 24, 2008 permitting a government-aided private school in Chennai to punish a teacher for having retained his name in the ‘live' register of the Employment Exchange even after taking up the job in the aided school.

Justice K. Chandru quashed the order while allowing a writ petition filed by the teacher. The judge recalled that in 2007 itself, a Full Bench of the High Court had held that deletion of the name of private aided school teachers from the ‘live' register was unconstitutional as they do not lose their right to be sponsored by the Employment Exchange to a better government post.

In the present case, the petitioner, G. Appavu, claimed that he joined P.A.K. Palanisamy Higher Secondary School in 1990 as a Postgraduate Assistant in Mathematics. A charge memo was given to him on September 21, 2001 levelling as many as six charges. After a farce of an enquiry, the school management sought approval for his dismissal from the Chief Educational Officer (CEO).

The CEO refused to grant approval on August 5, 2002. The management went on appeal before the Joint Director who rejected the appeal on February 16, 2006. Thereafter, the school filed a writ petition in the High Court and obtained a direction to reconsider the issue. It was only after that the Joint Director permitted the school to take action against the teacher on the charge of retaining his name in the ‘live' register.

The Joint Director, however, made it clear that the management should impose a minor penalty and not major punishments such as dismissal, removal, reduction in rank or suspension.

Nevertheless, taking advantage of the permission, the school management passed an order on November 26, 2008 imposing the penalty of compulsory retirement and hence the present writ petition.

Shocked over the approach of the school management, Mr. Justice Chandru set aside the compulsory retirement order too and directed it to reinstate the petitioner with all back wages.

If some other teacher had been appointed in the vacancy created by the petitioner's compulsory retirement, then that teacher must be terminated after due notice, the judge said and directed to complete the exercise within eight weeks.