Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran have, at the Supreme Court in the judgment of the case- Ajoy Debbarma and others v. State of Tripura and others, delivered on August 5, 2020, in very clear-cut terms stated that as very selection and appointments of 10,323 teachers by the Government of Tripura, under the advertisements issued in the years 2002, 2006 and 2009 were found to be illegal and invalid , no other advantage, except the age relaxation in all selections till March 31, 2023 can be conferred upon the concerned candidates.
The Apex-Court has further noted that the attempt on part of the State in offering certain alternate employment is not to degrade the teachers but some solace is being offered even in the cases where the candidates do not succeed in the selection to the posts of teachers.
The candidates, if they are otherwise competent and eligible, will certainly have every opportunity till March 31, 2023 to get selected for the posts of teachers in the State and by way of additional benefit those who are unsuccessful in such attempts may retain the alternate employment and this in the SC's view, does not amount to any degradation.
All the appeals in this case arose from the judgment and order passed by the Tripura High Court at Agartala on October 3, 2019 in the civil writ petition 1040/2019 and all other connected matters.
Selection of 10,323 teachers made by the Govt. of Tripura was challenged in the case - Tanmoy Nath & others v.The State of Tripura & others - (2014) 2 TLR 731. While accepting the challenge, it was held by the HC that the selection was contrary to the provisions of National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 and the relevant policies and that the appointments were arbitrary and illegal. It was found that the selection was irrational and illogical and that it suffered from nepotism and favouritism.
In the course of these proceedings, the SC passed orders on October 24, 2017, on a contempt petition filed against senior officers of Tripura State Govt. after taking note of the submission made by the petitioners' counsel that all the steps leading to notification of May 19, 2017 were taken only after the judgment of the Apex-Court on March 29, 2017, which is with a view to flout the SC's order. It was further submitted that the object of that has been to continue in service all those whose appointments were quashed and were found to be for extraneous reasons.
At that stage, counsel for the Chief Secretary Education, Tripura informed the SC that the appointments impugned in these proceedings were proposed to be initiated only after the completion of the selection of teachers which is likely to be over by December 31, 2017.
The directions of the SC were then complied with by the State Govt. and then an affidavit to that effect was filed, and after that, the contempt petition was disposed of by the Court by an order on August 2, 2019.
The time granted in direction (b) of its order of March 29, 2017, was extended by the SC from time to time and finally it issued directions on November 1, 2018 extending the period of services of the concerned teachers up to the end of the Academic Session 2019-2020.
In the meantime, some of the teachers had approached the HC again raising certain submissions, on which the final conclusion reached by the HC was that in effect, these petitioners were seeking review of the decision rendered in the case of Tanmoy Nath, which is not permissible in law, more so on the doctrine of merger and in view of this, the HC dismissed these petitions stating that these pleas are an abuse of process of law and speculative in nature.
It was submitted by the Tripura's counsel, Maninder Singh that if the appointments itself were illegal and the selection was set aside being arbitrary and illegal, the past services of such teachers could not be recognized and that the State Govt. Had afforded adequate opportunity to the concerned candidates by giving age relaxation and apart therefrom no other benefit can be extended to such candidates.
The questions concerning legality and validity of the entire selection process and the appointments of about 10,323 teachers were gone into in detail in Tanmoy Nath decision. The findings rendered by the HC were accepted by the SC while dismissing appeals arising therefrom. Though the services of the concerned teachers were initially protected only up to December31, 2017, accepting the plea made on behalf of the State this date was extended from time to time. It is a matter of record that such candidates now stand terminated.
In terms of the directions issued in the Tanmoy Nath judgment and appeal arising therefrom, the State is obliged to conduct selection process in which the concerned candidates will be entitled to participate with age relaxation, which has now been afforded by the State in all selections till March 31, 2023, which benefit is quite adequate and proper.
In the Supreme Cour's view, considering the fact that the very selection and appointments were found to be illegal and invalid, no other advantage can be conferred upon the concerned candidates. It must be noted that the attempt on part of the State in offering certain alternate employment is not to degrade the teachers but some solace is being offered even in some cases where the candidates did not succeed in the selection to the posts of teachers.
Though the notice was confined to the question of age relaxation as was made clear in the order of February 7, 2020, the SC also considered submissions which were not strictly confined to the said question. However, the Supreme Court did not find any substance in the contentions which have been, therefore, rejected. Consequently, these appeals along with M.A. (D) No. 11372 of 2020 have been dismissed.