Teaching qualifications

Kerala HC Mulls Committee of Experts

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday suggested to the State Department of General Education to set up an expert committee to deal with issues plaguing its internal functioning such as recruitment, database management, etc.

He noted the apparent lack of accurate data on students, instructors, and non-teaching staff in public and state-assisted schools, which ultimately led to an increase in disputes and consequential litigation.

He suggested the Department to form a committee comprised of experienced former DGEs, experts from state government initiatives such as KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education), Digital University Kerala, Indian Institution of Information Technology and Management-Kerala and legal professionals with practical knowledge. .

Judge Raja Vijayaraghavan V. was of the opinion that a significant number of disputes can be avoided if the department implements certain improvements by harnessing the power of information and communication technologies. It said,

…I can’t help but notice that litigation challenging orders issued by the Department of General Education has reached unprecedented levels…Even at the highest levels, officers are either ill-prepared or ill-informed of the relevant rules and the law interpreted by this Court based on the provisions of the statute…Having sat before this Court for over six months, I believe that if the Department implements certain improvements by harnessing the power of information and communications technology, a significant amount of litigation can be avoided.

The present case was brought by a teacher over a dispute over the approval of her appointment, where the order issued by the government was found to be contrary to the law settled by the Court and previous government orders. The Court held that officials should be required to follow applicable rules and government orders when considering statutory petitions and carrying out their action in accordance with the requirements of the law.

In addition, officials should be made unequivocally aware that they are responsible for ensuring strict adherence to applicable rules and government orders when considering statutory petitions and carrying out their action in accordance with the requirements of the law.

Even though the government of Kerala has established KITE to develop, promote and implement the modernization of state owned or government aided educational institutions in Kerala and which is retained to carry out staff fixation in government schools / aided by the state and to approve the hiring of teachers and that a portal called “SAMANWAYA” has been created to facilitate this, the Court observed that the portals are not seamlessly integrated and that no measures has been taken to share data from other departments.

If the exchange of data between various in-state and out-of-state universities, other educational institutions and certification authorities, etc. is achieved, it would be a clean, efficient and transparent task to determine the qualifications of teachers and non-teaching staff without using paper documents, saving time and money and ensuring transparency, Judge Vijayaraghavan has expressed his opinion.

The Court further highlighted instances where prompt intervention is required, finding that if appropriate action is taken, it would facilitate the functioning of the Department:

Creating a fail-safe database of all children pursuing an education in the state, including those attending public, aided, recognized, unaided, and private schools, and linking them to the schools in which they are enrolled . Further direct the department to assess whether biometric or other attendance systems can be implemented in schools for students and teachers and whether they can be linked to the portal operated by the Ministry of Education.

The Court ordered the State to refine and update the database of all teachers to whom the provisions of the Kerala Education Act and rules apply, including the date of their entry in service, their qualifications and any other information which may provide such teachers with an advantage under the Act and the Rules. In addition, the teacher database, staffing orders, seniority list and certificates of aptitude for school buildings must be linked to the portal managed by the Ministry of Education, and tables of separate boards should be provided to all stakeholders.

  • Online deposit of certificates, diplomas, etc.

As envisioned by the National Academic Depository (NAD), the Court ordered that there be an online repository of all academic awards, such as certificates, degrees, diplomas, grade sheets, etc., duly scanned and deposited by academic institutions/councils/eligibility assessment bodies, etc., so that there is no controversy regarding the acquisition of their qualifications. The Court observed that by establishing an accurate and error-free database for individual educational agencies and corporate educational agencies, as required by the Act and Rules, the majority of potential seniority disputes can be avoided.

The Court added that steps should be taken to allow access to university certificates and diplomas through application program interfaces (APIs) so that education authorities are aware of the qualifications of teachers/staff not teacher.

  • Statutory Appeal Consideration/Revisions

Noting that the majority of cases brought before the Court relate to the issuance of directions to the review/appeal authority to accept and dispose of matters pending before that authority, the Court held that even though statutory motions are filed by electronically, there is no clear process for indicating the authority before which the case is pending, whether an opinion has been issued and when it is likely to be heard. Accordingly, the Court directed the Department of General Education to take immediate steps to increase the transparency of the viewing and hearing of these cases by posting updated court dates and motions online. . By adopting methods such as the e-desk and the AEO/DEO/DDE office case movement system, the Court felt that efficiency could be achieved.

  • Quick finalization of seniority lists

Pursuant to Rule 35 Note 2 of Chapter XIV A, the Court ordered that a seniority list be compiled and submitted no later than May 31 of each academic year. Believing that many of these disputes can be avoided if the finalization is done before the deadline. The ministry might well do to make submission of the same mandatory. The Court added that the data must be made accessible online and that the parties concerned must be able to examine it.

  • Issues regarding the functioning of Officers and their non-compliance with the rules

The Court held that officers should receive adequate training to do their job in accordance with the Rules, because the failure of officers to conduct disciplinary proceedings following the detection of a false admission under the Rules is yet another reason. for increased litigation.

Thus, the Court adjourned the case until November 25, allowing the authorities to respond to the aforementioned suggestions.

The Petition in Brief was brought by the Applicant challenging the refusal of the Regional Deputy Head of Higher Secondary Education to approve her appointment as HSST (Hindi) at St. Sebastian HSS.

The petitioner was working as an HSA (Hindi) at the school, and when an HSST position became vacant due to the retirement of a teacher, the principal promoted the petitioner to the position of HSST (Hindi). The request for approval was rejected, considering that the selection was made without constituting a district council composed of a candidate of the government, and that it therefore went against the content of chapter XXXII of the rules and ordinances of Kerala education.

In order to ensure compliance with the directives issued, the Manager carried out a new selection after setting up a committee and issuing a new order of appointment. Subsequently, when the matter was brought before the Government, the Deputy Regional Director approved the appointment of the petitioner as HSST (Hindi) with effect from 25 March 2017. However, since the appointment of the petitioner for the period of 2016 to 2017 still not having been approved, the manager preferred a request for review asking for approval from the original date, but it was rejected by the assistant secretary. Thus, the petitioner applied to the High Court.

The Court in this case observed that the impugned order cannot be maintained and thus quashed the order citing that in a previous decision of the Court it is established that it is not necessary to constitute a selection committee when making appointments by indirect transfer. including a government candidate. All it takes is for the manager to ensure that the appointment complies with the rules.

Case Title: Jollyamma V. Thomas v. State of Kerala & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw(Ker) 544

Click here to read/download the order