SANTANU BHATTACHARJEE Vs. STATE OF TRIPURA
HIGH COURT TRIPURA
STATE OF TRIPURA
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Akil Kureshi,J. -
(1.) These petitions are connected. They have been heard together and would be disposed of by this common judgment. Petitioners are Graduate and Postgraduate Government teachers appointed sometime in the year 2010. Their services were terminated by the Government by orders passed in December 2017 pursuant to the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in case of Tanmoy Nath and others v. State of Tripura and others reported in (2014) 2 TLR 731 as confirmed by the Supreme Court. They have challenged these terminations on the ground that their cases are not covered by the judgment in case of Tanmoy Nath (supra).
(2.) Before recording the contentions of the counsel for the petitioners, a brief background leading to the decision in case of Tanmoy Nath may be given. In the State of Tripura the State Government had issued successive public advertisements for appointment of large number of graduate, undergraduate and postgraduate teachers in the years 2002 and 2006, however, the selection process could not be completed. Yet another advertisement was issued on 23.09.2009 inviting fresh applications, however, providing that those who had already applied earlier, need not apply afresh and their applications would be considered by giving one-time age relaxation. After these selections were made large number of petitions were filed challenging the appointments on various grounds. Bunch of these petitions were disposed of by a Single Judge of the Agartala Bench of Gauhati High Court by common judgment dated 16.11.2011. The learned Single Judge did not go into the merits of the allegations made by the petitioners but remanded the matters back to the Government for thorough scrutiny and examination by constituting a committee. This judgment was challenged by private individuals as well as by the State Government. The issue was thus placed before the Division Bench. The Division Bench of this court in case of Tanmoy Nath held that the new employment policy formulated by the State Government in the year 2003 on the basis of which all the selections and appointments were made, was defective on numerous counts. Entire selection was set aside. While doing so, the Court was conscious that terminating such large number of teachers at one-shot would create a vacuum of teaching staff in Government schools which would be detrimental to the education of young children. The Court, therefore, issued certain directions for continuing these teachers till fresh selections and appointments can be made within a specified time. The judgment of Tanmoy Nath was carried in appeal by the State Government. The Supreme Court initially stayed the judgment. All the selected teachers who were under threat of termination by virtue of the judgment of the High Court continued in the same capacity. However, subsequently the said appeal was dismissed. The judgment of the High Court in Tanmoy Nath was confirmed. Only modification made was in the timelines for completing the fresh selections with a further direction that the existing teachers would get the benefit of age relaxation. These timelines were also extended and revised from time to time and eventually even this extension was not granted further. Many teachers in the State thus faced terminations.
(3.) The petitioners' services have been terminated as part of the above process. They have filed these petitions challenging their terminations on the grounds that they were never a party in Tanmoy Nath case and their selections were not under challenge. Learned counsel for the petitioners argued that the High Court in Tanmoy Nath had specifically provided that the judgment would be prospective and would apply only to those selections which were in challenge before the High Court. In his opinion, since the selection of the petitioners was not in challenge, the judgment in case of Tanmoy Nath would not cover their cases and consequently the State Government committed a serious error in terminating their services relying on the decision in case of Tanmoy Nath.;
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