It is now time for government officials to pay, literally, for their callousness and neglect. Calcutta High Court on Monday directed the North 24-Parganas district inspector of schools to disburse the pension benefits of the teacher of a Panihati school, who took retirement 12 years ago, with an interest of 18 per cent, within seven days.
But here comes the crunch: The court also directed the government to hold an inquiry to ascertain who was responsible for the delay in the disbursement of the pension and other retirement benefits of the teacher and to realise the money from the salary of the official.
In a similar matter, Justice Girish Gupta of the same court directed the Hooghly district inspector of schools to pay compensation to a retired teacher who had not received his allowances since 1992.
Aloke Ghosh, counsel for the teacher Dharma Narayan Das, told Metro that his client, who was a teacher of Panihati Prannath High School, took his retirement on November 30, 1992. But the education department refused to disburse his pension, along with the other retirement benefits.
Das then filed a petition before Calcutta High Court in 1993, demanding its intervention. Justice Dilip Basu, on July 23, 1993, passed an order directing the district inspector of schools, North 24-Parganas, to submit a report regarding the claims of the petitioner and to have the claims monitored by a deputy senior officer.
The judge also directed the district inspector of schools to pay Das the salary for November 1992. The district inspector of schools, in his report before the court, admitted that the petitionerís claim was justified.
The court then asked the respondents to disburse the dues of the retired teacher as soon as possible. Justice Basu retired from his post and the matter came up for hearing before Justice Amitava Lala.
Justice Lala, on October 7, 2002, again asked the respondent to disburse the payments due to the teacher within a month. But the order of the court was not carried out.
Then, a contempt petition was filed by Das, and Justice Lala, in his verdict on Monday, asked the department to pay the dues within seven days. He stressed that the interest would have to be paid by the official responsible for not carrying out the courtís order to release the teacherís payments.
In the other matter, the court directed the district school authority to pay Sukumar Ghosh, a teacher of Samarkhand Primary School, at Goghat, in Hooghly, his retirement benefits within three months, with a compensation of Rs 5,000.
His counsel, Idris Ali, told Metro that his client joined service in 1962. On September 6, 1992, he received a letter from the education department asking him to join the post of head teacher at Chakla Primary School, in the same district, by August 30, 1992. Since Ghosh had received the letter six days after he was supposed to join the new post, he decided not join at all and reported the matter to his seniors.
This was not taken kindly by the district inspector of schools, Hooghly. He allowed Ghosh to continue in his old post but, as a punitive measure for not joining the new job, all his allowances, like dearness allowance and other such benefits, were held back. Since September 1992, the authorities only allowed him his basic pay.
The teacher then moved Calcutta High Court. On the verge of his retirement, in March 2002, the court directed the respondents to disburse his due allowances. However, since this was not done, a contempt petition was filed by Ali. On Monday, Justice Gupta delivered his verdict in the matter.