In a major relief for over 3,000 teachers in Jharkhand, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed them to continue in service as it sought a response from the state government on pleas against the High Court order quashing the employment policy 2016.
A bench, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R. Subhash, said: “Two weeks’ time is granted to file counter affidavit. Rejoinder affidavit, if any, be filed before the next date of hearing. In the meantime, those teachers, who are working in the scheduled district, shall continue to work and shall not be displaced in pursuance of the impugned judgment of the High Court. Interim relief till the next date of hearing.”
In September, the Jharkhand High Court had quashed the policy prescribing 100 per cent reservation for 10 years in grade III and grade IV government jobs for local residents in 13 scheduled districts. It also declared appointment of nearly 3,600 teachers done till now, against 8,423 posts, as null and void.
Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, P.S. Patwalia and advocate Prashant Shukla, representing petitioner Satyajit Kumar and others, contended before the bench that the high court relied on the apex court verdict, where 100 per cent reservation cannot be given to Scheduled Tribes in scheduled areas, and this verdict cannot be equated with facts of the case in Jharkhand.
The bench asked the petitioners to serve the copy of the pleas on the standing counsel for Jharkhand. “Looking to the nature of issues raised in this special leave petition, we are of the view that matter needs early consideration by this Court. We, thus, fix this matter for November 4,” it said.
The High Court had directed the state government to issue fresh advertisement after relaxing the upper age limit to the extent that candidates who applied in 2016 can appear again.
The previous BJP government in the state had framed the employment policy, which came into force July 2016, and as per this policy, all government jobs in grade III and grade IV in 13 scheduled districts are reserved for residents of the same district–living in Jharkhand before 1985.
Petitioners had challenged the legality of an advertisement issued in December 2016.
According to this advertisement, the state Staff Selection Commission sought appointment of 17,572 (against 9,149 and 8,423 vacancies in 11 non-scheduled and 13 scheduled districts respectively) assistant high school teachers in government schools.