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36 years in class, Rs 31 a month
- HC asks govt to regularise teacher

Calcutta, Feb. 15: Calcutta High Court has ordered the government to approve the appointment of a teacher who served in a school for 36 years at a monthly salary of Rs 31 and was never made permanent.

Papiya Gupta had joined Agoripara Primary School in North 24-Parganas’ Bijpur in 1975 and retired two years ago, still as a temporary teacher.

The court yesterday directed the education department to clear all her dues to the tune of Rs 17 lakh, including pension and statutory benefits, within four weeks.

Justice Saumitra Pal said in his order: “The court is giving only four weeks’ time to the government to carry out the order. The government is directed to give the petitioner appointment with effect from 1975. All the arrears, including pension and other statutory dues, will have to be disbursed by the department within a stipulated period of four weeks.”

Sambhu Dey, the lawyer appearing for the education department, assured the court that the directive would be carried out. “The department had made a mistake by not carrying out the court’s order. It will be carried out,” he said.

Gupta had joined the school as a temporary teacher on January 15, 1975. She was 23 then. Even after the school became government-aided in 1978, the primary education department — which was a separate entity then — did not regularise the services of six teachers, including Gupta.

Asked by the court why the services of the teachers were not approved, lawyer Dey said: “The department had decided to approve the service of one teacher for every 40 students. The school had around 480 students then (1978). So, the government approved the service of 12 teachers according to seniority. The services of the remaining six were not approved.”

Since then, five more teachers were gradually made permanent as the student strength increased.

In 1996, the department appointed a teacher but still did not make Gupta permanent.

“By that time, the ruling CPM had started recruiting its cadres in schools,” said Uttam Majumdar, the lawyer appearing for Gupta.

Gupta moved the high court in 1996.

“The court had ordered the primary education department to regularise her services but the department did not respond,” Majumdar said.

In 2003, the court again asked the primary education department to regularise Gupta’s services immediately.

“The secretary of the primary education department asked the district inspector of schools (primary) and the chairman of the primary school council of North 24-Parganas to regularise Gupta’s service. They did not obey the order and informed the primary education secretary that if Gupta was made permanent, it could be used as a precedent in several other cases,” Gupta’s lawyer said.

“The principal secretary then advised the school inspector and the chairman to treat Gupta’s case as a special one but they did not do so,” Majumdar added.

In 2008, the teacher moved a contempt of court petition before Justice Pal. For the third time, the court asked the government to make Gupta permanent. Once again, the order was not carried out.

Gupta made another appeal yesterday.

Gupta’s case is similar to that of Pranab Kumar Sengupta, who got a monthly salary of Rs 21.75 from 1973 till he retired in 2007. After a 15-year court battle, Sengupta, who used to teach at Patipukur Basak Bangan Primary School, got a cheque of Rs 13 lakh — the amount accrued in arrears — from the government in 2009.

In 2011, the government paid the dues of Mamata Goon, another teacher who was not regularised despite 37 years of service. Goon, who joined Mata Monomohini Prathamik Vidyalaya in Bonhooghly off BT Road in 1974, received a monthly salary of Rs 35 during her entire career.