Decided on August 21,1963



Narasimham, J. - (1.) This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing a direction by Mother Mary Ignatius, Mother-General of St. Anns Convent, Pbirangipu-ram, Guntur Dt. that the petitioner, a woman teacher of the R. C. M. Elementary School, Ren-tachintala, shall attend the school in the dress of a lay woman and thereby forbidding her wearing the conventional habit of a nun which the petitioner was. The said Mother Mary Ignatius, Mother-General, is impleaded as the 2nd respondent. The 1st respondent is the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur.
(2.) The facts necessary for appreciating the grievance of the petitioner are briefly these:- The petitioner is a Christian, and a teacher employed by the Roman Catholic Mission at Guntur, since 1939. She has been working as a woman teacher in the Elementary Schools run by the Roman Catholic Mission. She was made a nun in 1941 and admitted to the sister-hood of nuns. As a nun belonging to the said sister-hood, she was wearing the religious habit of a nun, that is to say, she was wearing a white gown and a hood over her head which was shaven. By reason of what the authorities alleged was conduct unbecoming of a nun, the Bishop of Guntur in his capacity as the head of the Guntur Diocese expelled the petitioner from the sister-hood on 23-10-1958. The authorities refrained from giving details which led to her expulsion. It would also be not necessary to go into the reasons for her expulsion as the petitioner docs not question the order of expulsion before us. Having been expelled from the sister-hood of nuns, it was the Canon law that she shall lay aside the religious habit of a nun. The authorities consider it a defiance of their Canon law governing the nuns, should the petitioner persist in wearing the religious habit of a nun after her expulsion. The authorities also removed her as a teacher and appointed a substitute in her place by an order dated 22-11-1958. The petitioner, however, appealed to the educational authorities and got that order vacated. She was ordered to be reinstated by an order dated 5-1-1960. Subsequently, on a representation by the Mission authorities, the educational authorities, in their proceedings dated 14-3-1961 stated that the petitioner shall be reinstated, but subject to the discipline of the Convent with regard to the dress she should wear. After these proceedings of the educational autho- rity dated 14-3-1961, the Mission authority referred to the Mother-General issued a direction that the petitioner shall attend school wearing a saree and a blouse as a lay woman teacher. The grievance of the petitioner is that such a direction about her dress is illegal and that it is still open to her to wear the religious habit of a nun. In para 4 of her affidavit in support of the petition, the direction of the Mission authority is impugned thus : "The order in regard to the dress which I should wear as a teacher is also illegal. The Elementary Schools run by mission are secular institutions, subject to the ordinary law of the land, wherein there is no particular dress prescribed, for a teacher. The restriction in regard to dress, be-sides being uneasonable and mala fide in the circumstances of this case, is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 16, 19 and 25 etc., of the Constitution of India." The petitioner has therefore resorted to this proceed ing to set the direction vacated.
(3.) The 1st respondent, whom we may, for convenience, refer as the Educational authority, stated in the counter-affidavit that the order of the Educational authority leaving it to the management of the Mission to regulate the dress was legal and valid as it was open to the management to so direct under their rules and that there was no violation of the petitioners right.;

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