All Nagaland Ad hoc Teachers Group-2015 batch (ANATG-2015) gathered at Secretariat junction here on Tuesday on the second day of their strike demanding regularisation of service.
ANATG-15 has vowed to continue with the agitation till their demand was met. Addressing the media, ANATG-2015 batch spokesperson Bendangtemsu Ozukum disclosed that the association had received information Monday night that the state government was unable to regularise their services due to a court order.
He said ANATG has been pointing out that regularisation had been done in other departments and had evidences to back the claim.
He asked whether the court order came up only with regard to regularisation of 1,166 teachers of 2015 batch and that if other teachers could be regularised, why not the adhoc teachers? He said that over the years and during the previous agitation, ANATG-2015 members faced untold hardships especially those with nursing mothers, expectant mothers and children.
Ozukum also clarified that the current agitation was not a threat to the government but a request. He remarked that there was a certain level of endurance after which human instinct took over.
He however assured that ANATG -2015 did not intend to go to that extent and so requested the government to come up with a solution at the earliest.
Ozukum said that on one hand the government said it was trying to resolve the issue, while on the other hand it maintained that regularisation could not be done and which has thrown ad hoc teachers to a huge dilemma. He said the government claimed that ANATG has resorted to agitation without any prior information even after it had issued a communiqué on September 22 wherein it clearly mentioned that 20 days were issued before the agitation as per the government’s request.
Since there was no positive response after expiry of the period, Ozukum said ANATG resorted to protest. He also clarified that none of the members were backdoor appointees as was the general perception. He said all ANTAG-2015 members were appointed against sanctioned posts and eligible to sit for suitability test, after which their services could be regularised.
No regularisation till Court issues directive: DoSE
Department of School Education (DoSE) through principal director (PD) Thavaseelan K said it was not possible to regularise services of ANATG-2015 till the orders of Supreme Court and High Court were vacated.
Thavaseelan informed media persons at his office chamber here Tuesday, that the government could consider regularisation of services only with direction from the Supreme Court and High Court. He therefore requested the teachers not to resort to any kind of agitation but resume their duties with immediate effect. He also cautioned teachers that their period of absence would be treated as Dies-non and that the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ shall be applied. He also warned of initiating disciplinary action against the agitators as per the Nagaland Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1968.
Further, the PD disclosed that DoSE has referred the issue of regularisation of 1,166 ad hoc teachers to Personnel and Administrative Reforms (P&AR) Department and had also been taken up by Cabinet several times.
He informed that the high court had on July 28, 2017, suspended operation of P&AR’s office memorandums of August 4, 2008 and August 11, 2016, that regulated regularisation issues, following which P&AR Department restrained departments from sending proposals for regularisation till the matter was resolved at the court.
However, Thavaseelan claimed that DoSE resubmitted a cabinet memo regarding the 1,166 adhoc teachers for direction of the cabinet and subsequently at its meeting on August 29, 2018 the cabinet decided that till the court matter was fully resolved, the teachers could not be regularised.
He disclosed that a writ appeal was filed by the State against the Guwahati High Court’s order on August 3, 2018, which was dismissed by a division bench on February 7, 2019.
Despite the situation, he claimed that when DoSE had received a representation from ANATG-2015, the matter was referred to P&AR Department, to which the latter had conveyed that as a one-time measure irregularly appointed employees who had completed 10 years of continuous service as on April 10, 2006 could be regularised as per a Supreme Court judgement of April 10, 2006 and advised DoSE to identify such employees.
Since service regularisation was restrained by high court orders, the PD said the matter was submitted to chief secretary. However, the department was advised to refer the matter to P&AR, Justice & Law and Finance departments and hence the matter was resubmitted to P&AR.
The P&AR department in its reply however stated, “High Court in its Judgment and Order dated 03/08/2018 passed in W.P. (C) No. 145 (K) 17 directed the State Government not to regularise any person on the basis of mere completion of three years of continuous service on contract/ad-hoc basis. The judgement was subsequently upheld by the same court in its order dated 07/02/2019 passed in W.A. No. 16 (K) 2018. In view of the above said judicial pronouncements, the proposed regularization of service is not feasible at this juncture.”
Further, Thavaseelan disclosed that DoSE had also sought legal opinion of the State’s advocate general and Law & Justice Department, whose replies were yet to arrive.
On that note, he requested all adhoc teachers to resume their normal duties immediately, while warning of initiating disciplinary proceedings against defaulter(s) as deemed fit.
He cautioned that disciplinary proceedings would affect service of defaulters, adding that names of all teachers and their schools were in the possession of the department.
Responding to a query, Thavaseelan too admitted that the ad hoc teachers were not backdoor appointees but, as pointed out by P&AR Department, he said the group fell under irregular employees category.
On whether the government was ready to regularise services of the aggrieved teachers after the court order was vacated, he commented that the decision would have to be taken by cabinet later.
But he categorically pointed out that there was no other solution to this imbroglio other than getting the court order vacated.
On regularisations done in other departments, he said when this matter was taken up with P&AR Department, the latter had clarified that the services were different in nature.
On why the suitability test results were not declared, he said since the court order was in place, the result would have had no impact even if declared.
Regarding recruitment of teachers, he said now it would be done through Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC) and Nagaland Staff Selection Board (NSSB).
On the other hand, Thavaseelan in a press release informed the agitating group of teachers that the government was constrained to regularise their services in view of the court order.
In consideration of the plight of the teachers on adhoc service, he claimed that the government had already granted scale pay with revision of pay (RoP) 2010 to them inspite of the financial constraints faced by the State.