A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday barred aided school teachers and non-teaching staff from contesting Assembly elections.
The Bench made the ruling while allowing a few public interest litigations seeking to prevent aided school teachers from contesting Assembly elections. The petitioners contended that though government teachers were barred from participating in political activities, including contesting Assembly elections, there was no such prohibition on aided school teachers.
Allowing the petitions, the Bench held unconstitutional section 2 (IV) of the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualifications) Act, 1951, which said that employees of non-governmental educational institutions would not be disqualified for being chosen as a member of the Assembly by reason only of his/her holding any office in any non-governmental educational institutions.
The court made it clear that the declaration would be applied prospectively.
Right to Education Act
The petitioners pointed out that aided schools teachers were granted political rights as per the Kerala Education Act (KEA), 1951. At that point, part II of KEA dealing with compulsory school education was not brought into effect. However, with the subsequent development in the education sector such as the Right to Education Act etc., the classification of teachers had become unreasonable. Besides, political activities by teachers and their contesting the Assembly elections would also affect the quality of education.
The petitioners contended that aided school teachers could not be given different treatment as the Right to Education Act ensured quality education both in government and aided schools.
The State government argued that as per a government order issued in 1967, teachers of aided schools were conferred political rights. There were no rules or Act prohibiting them from contesting the Assembly elections. Besides, special leaves without pay could be granted to aided teachers elected to local bodies and Assemblies. Moreover, section 2 (IV) of the Act had relaxed the rule of disqualification in favour of employees of non-governmental educational institutions, it added.