Kerala HC: Government cannot enforce the provisions of the RTI Act against the private schools
To rehabilitate those teachers who were appointed prior to July, 15, 1997 and were subsequently retrenched from aided schools, the government brought out a comprehensive package for appointment and deployment of teachers in aided schools. The government had claimed that it is a measure for approval of appointment of excess teachers working without salary and for revision of the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) as per the norms of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Kerala state government had issued an order in September, 2011 stating that appointment of teachers in ‘additional division vacancies’ was restricted on various occasions. The order imposed strict conditions from for filling up of vacancies of teachers. But managers of certain aided schools defied the government order.
Hearing a group of petitions filed by managers of various aided schools, including minority institutions, the Kerala High Court has set aside government orders imposing conditions on the appointment of teachers in aided schools and the conditions for filling the vacancies of teachers by making appointment from the ‘teachers bank’. The executive order issued in continuation of the government orders was also annulled. While the State submit that the prime concern was effective deployment of the protected and retrenched teachers, the managers argued that the provisions were coercive and takes away their right to appoint teachers of their choice. Further, they could not appoint the teachers on probation and were forced to limit their choice to the teacher’s bank.
The state government order contained a provision for bringing private aided schools under the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 which also stands quashed. Another state government order stating that appointment to leave vacancies should be on daily wages stands quashed. Justice A V Ramakrishna Pillai of the High Court observed that under the provisions of the Kerala Education Rules, the managers are the appointing authority. The Court further held that “It is true that private aided schools are receiving aids, subject to the control of the government in certain matters. However, that by itself will not entitle the government to enforce the provisions of the Right to Information Act against the private schools.”