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Chennai, Oct. 26 (PTI): The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to issue a fresh notification for holding counselling for promotion to the post of B.T. assistants and headmasters of high schools from among qualified teachers, who possess the minimum eligibility criteria of passing the teachers eligibility test (TET) at the earliest. Justice D Krishnakumar issued the direction while allowing a writ petition from R Sakthivel and dismissing a writ petition from V Vanaja and 40 others recently.

Sakthivel sought to quash an order of the Commissioner of School Education and another one of the Director of School Education on June 30 this year as illegal to the extent of making promotion from unqualified persons and direct them to give promotion or appointment from TET passed persons alone.

The other petition from Vanaja and 40 others sought to quash an order dated July 11 this year insofar as it had postponed the promotion counselling, which was scheduled to be held on July 14 and 15 for the post of B.T. assistant from the post of secondary grade teachers. It sought to hold the counselling within a timeframe to be fixed by the court.

The judge noted that the NCTE, the academic authority authorised by the Central government under section 23(1) of the Right to Education Act (RTE Act), prescribed the minimum qualification for recruitment as teachers for classes I to VIII. The language used in section 23 of the Act is clear that a teacher, who at the commencement of the Act, does not possess the minimum qualification, shall acquire it within five years.

This was initially granted by the Act/statute to enable the existing teachers, who were already in service at the commencement of the Act, to acquire the qualification of pass in TET and also in circumstances where a State not having adequate institutions offering courses or training in teacher education, or teachers possessing minimum qualifications are not available in sufficient numbers. Even the RTE Rules, 2011 framed by the Tamil Nadu government emphasised that all teachers in schools are required to acquire the minimum qualification within five years from the commencement of the Act dated March 31, 2015. It had also issued a GO on November 15, 2011, making the TET compulsory and designated the teachers recruitment board (TRB) as the nodal agency for conducting the test for recruitment of teachers.

Subsequently, under the RTE Amendment Act in 2017, the period to acquire the minimum qualification was extended by another four years by March 31, 2019. The intention of the Central government is to ensure strict enforcement of section 23 of the RTE Act, 2009 and therefore, they have declined to grant further extension of time sought for by the State governments for completion of TET by teachers dated February 27, 2019.

“In the light of the above narration and taking note of the factual background, the legal provisions spelling out the intention of the legislature, the effect of the subordinate legislation pursuant thereto, the inescapable conclusion would be that every teacher whether secondary grade or B.T. assistant, whether appointed by direct recruitment or promotion in the case of BT assistant, whether initially appointed prior to the RTE Act, NCTE amended notifications or appointed thereafter, must necessarily possess/acquire the eligibility of a pass in TET.

The only allowance to those appointed prior to the RTE Act 2009 is that they have been given five years initially and another four years from April 1, 2015 to acquire the eligibility of pass in TET. Therefore, the claim that secondary grade teachers appointed prior to the commencement of the Act and notifications will now be eligible for promotion to the post of BT assistant without passing TET, cannot be countenanced in the light of the analysis done,” the judge said and gave the direction. COR NVG NVG

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