Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court
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Mumbai: Observing that the efficacy of an educational institution depends on the efficient functioning of both the teaching as well as the non-teaching staff, the Bombay High Court last week ordered the Education Officer of Thane district to approve the recruitment of a woman to the post of a peon in a Catholic school in Kalyan.

A single-judge bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudesai also said that the state cannot infringe the fundamental rights of a minority institution by imposing an embargo on recruiting employees. The bench said the minority educational institutions have the fundamental right to appoint employees of their choice.

"It is important to recognize that the efficacy of an educational institution depends on the efficient functioning of the management, teaching and non-teaching staff. Each one of these categories is indispensable and absence of any one of them adversely affects the smooth functioning of the institution," Justice Prabhudesai observed.

The judge further noted that the state had in 2015 issued a government resolution (GR) imposing a ban on recruiting non-teaching staff across schools in Maharashtra, particularly on sanctioned posts. The judge, however, opined that such a ban would hamper the functioning of schools.

"Such prolonged and indefinite ban on appointment of non-teaching staff would hamper day-to-day administration of the schools" Justice Prabhudesai held.

"It is also pertinent to note that the school before me is undisputedly a minority education institution and thus has a fundamental right to appoint teaching and non-teaching staff of its choice and it cannot be compelled to appoint or absorb an employee not of its choice" the judge added.

The court further held that the state cannot restrict such an institution's "autonomy" with regards to its administration "by imposing a ban on recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff. Any such restriction would infringe the Constitutional guarantee conferred on minority institutions by Article 30 of the Constitution of India" the judge ruled, adding, "The Education Officer has overlooked this aspect while rejecting the approval."

The bench accordingly ordered the education officer to grant an approval to the woman, who had approached the court challenging orders of the authority by which her appointment was held to be invalid citing the 2015 GR.

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Free Press Journal