The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salary hope, after 33 yrs & SC rap

Calcutta, July 10: For 33 years, Sunanda Chakladar has been teaching at Desagourav Vidyamandir in Belghoria. But she has nothing to show for it: no salary, not even an official status.

Things could now change for Chakladar, who has been struggling to make ends meet. Yesterday, the Supreme Court pulled up the District Primary School Council of Calcutta for not implementing a high court order and a directive from the Directorate of School Education (DSE) to approve her appointment.

The apex court rejected the special leave petition filed by the council, saying it cannot move the Supreme Court when its superior authority, the DSE, decided to abide by the high court order to regularise the teacher’s appointment.

Chakladar’s case is an echo of Pranab Sengupta’s who got a measly Rs 21.75 as salary for over 31 years till the high court forced the North 24-Parganas district primary education council to regularise his appointment.

Chakladar joined the school in 1971 after receiving an appointment letter from the then managing committee, but the council refused to approve it. She has been working for the past three decades but going empty-handed on ever pay day.

Frustrated, she filed a writ petition in Calcutta High Court in 1992 — when Sengupta had also moved the court — after her appeals to the school education department proved futile.

After several hearings over 12 years, a division bench directed the council on April 5 this year to approve her appointment with retrospective effect from 1971. It also asked the council to pay the teacher all her arrears.

But the council refused to disburse the current salary of the teacher. She then knocked on the doors of Kanti Biswas, minister in charge of secondary education, on July 3.

The minister gave her a patient hearing and summoned the director of school education to his chamber. Biswas asked the DSE to take up the matter with the council immediately and to do the needful to ensure payment of salary to the teacher.

The director issued a letter to the council the same day, asking it to carry out the high court order immediately and submit a compliance report to the DSE. Instead of carrying out the order, the council moved the Supreme Court.

“The DSE was kind enough to send a copy of his letter to the council to my client. When I produced the letter in the apex court, the judges were astonished that the council had disobeyed the order of its superiors,” Chakladar’s counsel Lakshi Kanta Pal said.

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