She served as a teacher in a government-recognised private school for 29 years — with an appointment letter, but without a salary. After her retirement, she won approval of her appointment by the state with retrospective effect, following an intervention by Calcutta High Court. The state education department, however, offered her salary for less than three months and said she would get a pension as per existing rules. On Thursday, Ashima Ghosh moved court again, fighting for her rights and demanding her arrears.
Ashima was appointed teacher of Saraswati Primary Hindi School in Baruipur, South 24-Parganas, in November 1973. She joined work on December 1, 1973. Both the urban school advisory committee and the sub-inspector of schools of the district asked for the approval of Ashima’s appointment from the West Bengal State Primary Education Board. But there was no reply.
The district authorities, after waiting for 20 years, moved a plea before the assistant secretary of the state education department who, in February 1994, directed the School Education Board to settle the case and pay Ashima her salary. But nothing changed, forcing Ashima to knock on the high court door. Justice P.K. Roy passed a directive asking the state education department assistant secretary to explain why the petitioner’s appointment had not been approved despite the district authorities’ recommendation.
The secretary, in his report submitted before the court on December 3, 2001, said he had already given the necessary directives to the School Education Board. The judge then asked the assistant secretary, as well as the director of primary school education, to appear before the court with all relevant documents.
On January 20, 2002, the respondents said the relevant file was missing. The court then asked the Saraswati Primary School authorities to clarify matters, in response to which the Baruipur school admitted that the petitioner had been working there since December 1, 1973, with a valid appointment letter.
Justice Roy, in June 2002, directed the state government to issue a notification confirming her service with effect from December 1, 1973, and disburse her salary. The assistant secretary of the state education department recently issued a notification to the school, saying: “As per the school records, she (Ashima) should be retired on August 31, 2002. So, she should be awarded notional fixed salary from the date of the order of the court, that is, from June 10, 2002, to August 31.”