New Delhi: The Supreme
Court has expressed "strong displeasure" over the manner in which
the Bihar government was treating school teachers, dragging them
to courts for 35 years instead of treating them honourably and
giving them an appropriate salary.
"The state government must realise that in a country where there
is so much illiteracy, and where there are such a large number of
first-generation students, the role of the primary and secondary
teachers is very important," said the apex court bench of Justice
Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice H.L. Gokhale in a recent
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Nijjar said: "They have to be
treated honourably and given appropriate pay and chances of
promotion. It is certainly not expected of the state government to
drag them to the court in litigation for years together."
The court said: "We do record our strong displeasure for the
manner in which the state of Bihar kept on changing its stand from
time to time. This is not expected from the state government."
The court said this while allowing two petitions by the Bihar
State Government Secondary School Teachers Association which had
challenged the high court orders of Oct 31, 2007, and May 21,
2010, quashing the July 7, 2006, order of the governor merging the
teachers of the Subordinate Education Service (Teaching Branch)
male and female cadre into Bihar Education Service Class II.
The merger was challenged by the Bihar Education Service
Association, giving rise to a third round of litigation.
The apex court also took exception to the manner in which the
Bihar High court allowed the reopening of the issue, which had
been decided twice by the apex court, in earlier rounds of
"The manner in which the learned Single Judge proceeded with... to
reopen the entire controversy, and also the Division Bench... in
approving that approach is also far from satisfactory," the apex
Holding that the single judge of the high court had no business to
re-open the entire controversy with Bihar Education Service
Association challenging the merger, the apex court said: "The law
of finality of decisions which is enshrined in the principle of res judicata (matter already judged) or principles analogous
thereto, does not permit any such re-examination, and the learned
Judge clearly failed to recognise the same."
"If the orders passed by this court were not clear to the state
government or any party, it could have certainly approached this
Court for clarification thereof. But it could not have set up a
contrary plea in a collateral proceeding," the judgment said,
adding: "We do not expect such an approach from the state
government, and least from the High Court."
The Bihar government had set up a three-member committee in March
1976 to recommend as to how the stagnation in government services
could be removed and promotional opportunities enlarged.
The committee in its report said that its recommendations should
come into effect from January 1977.
Accepting the recommendations of the committee, the Bihar
government issued a notification on April 11, 1977, and it was
gazetted April 27, 1977.
The judgment extracted two paragraphs of the government decision
July 3, 2007, which said that in the year 1977 the total number of
created/sanctioned posts of male and female teachers were 2,465,
against which total working strength was 1,336. This decreased to
880 by the years 2006, and of this, if 301 units belonging to
Jharkhand are deducted, the total comes to only 579.
The number of teachers in schools were counted to assess the
financial burden on the state exchequer on account of the
implementation of the decision.