The Bombay high court has ruled that trained teachers should be given pension applicable to employees in their grade as it would be illegal and unjustified to give them pension of untrained teachers.
Accordingly, justices SJ Vajifdar and MS Sonak recently directed the civic body in Mumbai to pay pension to an assistant trained teacher, who retired from the same post after 27 years of service in a municipal school, on the basis of the pension applicable to a trained teacher.
Charumathi Kannappa Mudaliar, right from the date of her appointment and up to the date of her retirement, i.e. upto October 31, 2009, was paid salary and other benefits payable to an assistant trained teacher.
There is no dispute that the service conditions of Mudaliar entitled her to draw pension upon superannuation. However, for a period of about two years, no pension was paid to her. Ultimately, pension payments commenced on the basis that she had superannuated as an assistant untrained teacher.
There is a difference in the pay scales of Assistant trained teachers and assistant untrained ueachers. This difference naturally persists in the pensionary benefits as well.
After hearing the arguments, the court ruled that she is entitled to pension applicable to trained teachers and hence asked the municipal authorities to pay pension accordingly.
They have been asked to pay her the difference in the pension amounts of trained and untrained teachers and also pay interest of 12 per cent on these arrears by September 2015.
The impugned action was defended, saying Mudaliar’s initial appointment as an assistant trained teacher was defective. The qualifications for appointment of assistant trained teacher was SSC/HSC with Diploma in Education (D.Ed), while she had B.A. and B.Ed (Physical Education and History) degrees.
Mudaliar’s qualifications were not only valid in the relevant field, but were higher than requisite qualification. Despite the same, her initial appointment 27 years prior to the date of her superannuation was not only virtually annulled, but the respondents even sought recovery of the difference in pay between trained and untrained teachers.
They also resisted payment of pensionary benefits commensurate to the post of a trained teacher.
The high court quashed and set aside the impugned communication of December 29, 2011, which directed recoveries from the petitioner as regards her salary and other benefits.
“In our judgment, the action of respondents is totally unreasonable, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”, said the judges.
“There is no dispute that the petitioner possessed qualifications of B.A. and B.Ed, which are higher than the minimum prescribed qualifications of SSC/HSC with D.Ed. It is not the respondent’s case that holding higher qualifications disqualifies a candidate from occupying the post,” they said.
“Nor has it been contended that the qualifications possessed by the petitioner are either not appropriate or have no nexus with the post held by her for almost 27 years. The petitioner’s appointment was duly approved and the petitioner throughout her service period was treated as an Assistant Trained Teacher, which clearly she was,” observed the bench.
The petitioner during her entire service period has been paid salary of an assistant trained teacher. “In these circumstances, we find absolutely no justification on the part of the respondents even to suggest that the petitioner’s initial appointment, made 27 years prior to the date of her superannuation, was in any manner defective,” the judges said.
The judges said they found no justification in permitting the respondents to recover any alleged arrears or to deny pension or pensionary benefits commensurate to the post of the assistant trained teachers to the petitioner.
Any attempt to recover the difference from the petitioner, on the basis that she should have been appointed only as assistant untrained teacher is ex facie illegal and unjustified, the judges held.
“So also, the denial of pension and pensionary benefits commensurate to the post of assistant trained teacher, in which post she has actually discharged the duties for a period of 27 years prior to her superannuation, is also arbitrary, illegal and unjustified,” the judges ruled.