1. The short question that arises for consideration in this petition is whether the Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, has jurisdiction to decide whether the alleged resignation given by an Assistant Teacher in the school is a resignation according to law of is a forced resignation. The respondent No. 2 is an Assistant Teacher in the school run by Shriram Swami Shikshan Sanstha, which had filed the instant petition. The respondent No. 2 made a complaint on 22nd September, 1982 to the Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, i.e. the respondent No. 1, that her resignation was forcibly obtained from her by the President of the petitioner-society, who incidentally happens to be the father-in-law of the respondent No. 2. On 23rd November, 1982, the Head Master of the school in question was called by the Additional Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, to make an enquiry into the question of the alleged forced resignation of the respondent No. 2. He, thereafter by his order date 3rd December, 1982, held that the resignation of the respondent No. 2 is not according to rules. He, therefore, directed the petitioner management to reinstate her in service and give a compliance report to that effect to his office.
2. The petitioner management has challenged this order of the Additional Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to entertain such a complaint about the forced resignation. It is also pointed out in the petition that if at all such a grievance about the forced resignation can be made, it is only under S. 9 of the Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (Conditions of Service) Regulation Act, 1977 (for short, the Act). It is at this stage also pointed out that in the application for vacation of stay, filed by the Respondent No. 2, she had complained that initially she had moved the Tribunal under S. 9 of the Act, but the Tribunal returned her complaint back.
3. The principal question in this petition is whether the respondent No. 1, i.e., the Education Officer, Zilla Parished, Nagpur, has jurisdiction to entertain the complaint of the respondent No. 2 regarding her forced resignation. We have perused the provisions of the Act and we find that there is no provision in the Act which confers any jurisdiction upon the Education Officer in regard to this matter. Section 7 of the Act read with Rule 40 of the Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1981, deals with the procedure for tendering resignation but no provisions is made creating a forum for adjudication upon such resignation tendered by the employees. The respondent No. 1 and 2 have not been able to bring to out notice any provision of law which confers jurisdiction upon the Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, in such matters. It is, therefore, clear that the Education Officer, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, erred and acted without jurisdiction in entertaining the complaint of the respondent No. 2 about the forced resignation. His impugned order dated 3rd December, 1982, is, therefore, liable to be set aside on this short ground.
4. However, since an important question as regards the remedy to the employee in such matters is raised before us, both by the petitioner as well as the respondent No. 2, it is necessary to consider the provisions of the Act to see whether there is a remedy provided in the Act in such matters. This brings us to S. 9 of the Act, which creates a forum for adjudication in regard to removal, dismissal or termination of service of the employees covered under the Act. The provisions of S. 9(1) are reproduced below for ready reference :
'9. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law or contract for the time being in force, any employee in a private school who is dismissed or removed or whose services are otherwise terminated or who is reduced in rank, by the Management and who is aggrieved, shall have a right of appeal and may appeal against any such order to the Tribunal Constituted under S. 8.'
5. We have, therefore, to consider the question whether the employee can move the Tribunal under S. 9 of the Act in the case of an alleged forced resignation. The language used in S. 9 of the Act covers not only dismissal and removal but all forms of termination of service. On behalf of the petitioner, a decision of the Karnataka High Court in M/s. Southern Roadways Ltd., Bangalore v. Padmanabhan 1979 Lab I.C. 234 arising under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, is relied upon to show that the phraseology 'or otherwise terminates the services' covers the case of forced resignation and, therefore, a reference under S. 2-A read with S. 10 of the Act is maintainable in the case of a forced resignation. We fell that it is a well settled proposition of law that a forced resignation, which means a resignation not voluntarily given by the employee but is brought about by force, duress or in any other manner by the employer is by the act of the employer. In substance the contract of service comes to an end in such case by the action on the part of the employer. It, therefore, amounts to termination of service by the employer. In the decision of the Karnataka High Court (cited supra), the Court was considering the phraseology 'otherwise terminates the services' used in S. 2-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. A similar phraseology is used in S. 9(1) of the Act. We are in agreement with the view taken by the Karnataka High Court in the decision cited supra. We are supported in this view also by an old decision by the Additional Judicial Commissioner in Abraham Reuben v. Karachi Municipality A.I.R. 1929 Sin. 69, which has relied upon an English decision in Stephenson v. London Joint Stock Bank Ltd. 1903) 52 W.R. 183. We therefore, hold that the phraseology 'whose services are otherwise terminated' used in S. 9(1) of the Act covers cases of forced resignation and, therefore, in such matters, an employee can move the Tribunal under S. 9(1) of the Act.
6. In the circumstances, we allow this petition and set aside the impugned order of the Additional Education Officer dated 3rd December, 1982 and the memo dated 30th December, 1982 issued by him pursuant to his aforesaid impugned order dated 3rd December, 1982. Rule is made absolute in terms of prayer clause (a). No order as to costs.