Bombay HC strictures against educ dept – St. Mary’s

July 6, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india, Persecution

St Mary's School (SSC)Mumbai, July 05, 2013: The Bombay high court recently passed strictures against the education inspector (EI) of the city’s south zone for “taking advantage of his own wrong” and going ahead to debar Fr Baptist Pinto from functioning as the principal of St Mary’s School (SSC), Mazagon.

A division bench of Justice S J Vazifdar and Justice M S Sonak delivered a strongly worded order on July 2, 2013, which said the EI’s order of April 2013, which debarred Pinto, was “affecting the smooth functioning of the school” which has been in existence for over 80 years.

The court’s verdict came on a petition filed by the Bombay St Mary’s Society and the school challenging the EI’s order directing Pinto not to function as principal as no approval had been given to his appointment by the state education department. The petitioners also challenged the EI’s March 22, 2012 order directing the school to refund Rs 1.45 crore to its students.

Pending the final disposal of the petition, the judges directed the deputy director of education, the EI and the state government to pay Pinto’s salary and permit him to function as principal. The court noted that on January 25, 2012 it had directed the education department to consider and decide the school management’s proposal to appoint Pinto within four weeks.

“He (the EI) has for 18 months blatantly refused to obey an order of this court, to consider the petitioner’s application for approval of one Father Pinto as the headmaster, and in the meantime, taking advantage of his own wrong, suspended his (Pinto’s) signing powers for salaries etc,” the judges stated.

The judges said that after the January 25, 2012 order, the EI was bound to consider the proposal within four weeks, but “has failed and neglected to comply with the order to date” and also “has not even sought an extension of time to do so”. Further, there is no assurance that he will do so shortly. “The impugned order (of April 4, 2013) is, to say the least, unfair,” they added.

The judges said the EI, taking advantage of the delay on his part, issued an order debarring Pinto from functioning as principal. They said that even though the school had filed a petition on July 10, 2012 against the order to refund money, the EI went ahead and passed an order debarring the principal. “The fact that signing powers have been given to the senior-most teacher, does not justify this conduct on the part of the education inspector. It continues to undermine the authority of the headmaster in the institution, which is per se undesirable,” they said, agreeing with the submission of the school’s advocate Arvind Kothari.

The judges also said there is no allegation that Pinto would “fraudulently exercise the signing powers or misappropriate any grants received from the respondents (department)”.

In other matters, the case involving 36 students, who lost their seats at St Mary’s (SSC) High School after the education department ordered the school to redo Class V admissions as per the lottery system, will come up for hearing next week.

– times of india / rosy sequeira

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