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Puthota Chinnamma Vs. the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 366 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1964AP277
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 26, 30 and 226
AppellantPuthota Chinnamma
RespondentThe Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur and anr.
Appellant AdvocateN. Bapiraju and ;S. Hanumaiah, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateD.V. Sastry, Adv. for ;3rd Govt. Pleader and ;O. Chinnappa Reddy, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....- petitioner is an expelled nun who was asked by educational institution to discontinue wearing 'religious habit' for getting reinstated - petitioner claims breach of fundamental rights - article 26 clearly lays down that a private religious body like roman catholic mission can establish their own rules and practices - article 30 gives wide powers to an educational institution - held, no case of breach of fundamental rights is made out and writ petition against private religious body is not maintainable. - - , [1952]1scr391 that--the language and structure of article 19 and its setting in part iii of the constitution clearly show that the article was intended to protect those freedoms against state action other than in the legitimate exercise of its power to regulate..........to dress and other matters.11. it is common knowledge that in convents the pupils are required to wear a dress of a distinctive pattern. it is not as if the teachers are not amenable to the discipline and they cannot be required to wear a distinctive pattern of dress. however, the question in this case is not that the petitioner herein, a teacher of the school, is required to wear a particular pattern of dress but that she shall not wear the 'religious habit of a nun' as obviously she was expelled from the com-munity of sisters. we are unable to see how the direction that the petitioner, an expelled nun, shall not wear the 'religious habit' of a nun,could be questioned when indisputably nuns have a distinctive dress known as 'the religious habit' which only nuns could wear. it is.....
Judgment:

Narasimham, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing a direction by Mother Mary Ignatius, Mother-General of St. Ann's Convent, Pbirangipu-ram, Guntur Dt. that the petitioner, a woman teacher of the R. C. M. Elementary School, Ren-tachintala, shall attend the school in the dress of a lay woman and thereby forbidding her wearing the conventional habit of a nun which the petitioner was. The said Mother Mary Ignatius, Mother-General, is impleaded as the 2nd respondent. The 1st respondent is the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur.

2. The facts necessary for appreciating the grievance of the petitioner are briefly these:- The petitioner is a Christian, and a teacher employed by the Roman Catholic Mission at Guntur, since 1939. She has been working as a woman teacher in the Elementary Schools run by the Roman Catholic Mission. She was made a nun in 1941 and admitted to the sister-hood of nuns. As a nun belonging to the said sister-hood, she was wearing 'the religious habit of a nun', that is to say, she was wearing a white gown and a hood over her head which was shaven. By reason of what the authorities alleged was conduct unbecoming of a nun, the Bishop of Guntur in his capacity as the head of the Guntur Diocese expelled the petitioner from the sister-hood on 23-10-1958. The authorities refrained from giving details which led to her expulsion. It would also be not necessary to go into the reasons for her expulsion as the petitioner docs not question the order of expulsion before us. Having been expelled from the sister-hood of nuns, it was the Canon law that she shall lay aside the 'religious habit of a nun'. The authorities consider it a defiance of their Canon law governing the nuns, should the petitioner persist in wearing the religious habit of a nun after her expulsion.

The authorities also removed her as a teacher and appointed a substitute in her place by an order dated 22-11-1958. The petitioner, however, appealed to the educational authorities and got that order vacated. She was ordered to be reinstated by an order dated 5-1-1960. Subsequently, on a representation by the Mission authorities, the educational authorities, in their proceedings dated 14-3-1961 stated that the petitioner shall be reinstated, but subject to the discipline of the Convent with regard to the dress she should wear. After these proceedings of the educational autho-

rity dated 14-3-1961, the Mission authority referred to the Mother-General issued a direction that the petitioner shall attend school wearing a saree and a blouse as a lay woman teacher. The grievance of the petitioner is that such a direction about her dress is illegal and that it is still open to her to wear the religious habit of a nun. In para 4 of her affidavit in support of the petition, the direction of the Mission authority is impugned thus :

'The order in regard to the dress which I should wear as a teacher is also illegal. The Elementary Schools run by mission are secular institutions, subject to the ordinary law of the land, wherein there is no particular dress prescribed, for a teacher. The restriction in regard to dress, be-sides being uneasonable and mala fide in the circumstances of this case, is against the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 16, 19 and 25 etc., of the Constitution of India.'

The petitioner has therefore resorted to this proceed ing to set the direction vacated.

3. The 1st respondent, whom we may, for convenience, refer as the Educational authority, stated in the counter-affidavit that the order of the Educational authority leaving it to the management of the Mission to regulate the dress was legal and valid as it was open to the management to so direct under their rules and that there was no violation of the petitioner's right.

4. The and respondent, who may be referred to as the Mission authority stated similarly that the order relates to routine administration and does not involve any master which is violative of the Constitution.

5. The petitioner in her reply affidavit asserted that she was wearing the religious habit of a nun for the last 20 years and that she would not give it up and that the direction that she should give it up interfered with her fundamental right under the Constitution, and that she was not bound by the Canon law so far as her rights and duties as a teacher in the school were concerned.

6. The two facts brought out prominently in this petition are: Firstly, the petitioner was a nun who was expelled by the duly constituted authority and that the nun's dress is peculiar to the community of sisters under the Roman Catholic Canon law. The petitioner does not question the order of her expulsion before us. Secondly, the petitioner claims that she could, as of right, wear the religious habit of a nun even after expulsion saying that it is a fundamental right of hers guaranteed under the Constitution. We would now proceed to consider the contentions of the parties.

7. The first point raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner has had no notice of the representation made by the Mission Authority which led to the direction in the proceedings of the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur, dated 14-3-1961. To appreciate this contention, we may conveniently set out the proceedings of the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction dated 14-3-1961 :

'Proceedings of the Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur.

Roc. 304-A4/59.

Dated: 14-2-1961.

Subject: - Elementary Education -- Aided school -- Appeal Petition of the Manager, R. C. M. Elementary School, Rentachintala, Guntur District against the order of this office.

Ref: Appeal petition dated 15-2-1960 of the Manager, R. C. M. Elementary School.

2. Director's Pros. Re. No. 129-B2/60 dated 21-2-1961.

The Manager, R. C. M. Elementary School, Rentachintala, is informed that the teacher Suit. P. Chinnamma, may be re-instated of course with their own conditions about the teacher's dress etc., as per the principles and the discpline of the convent.

A further report on the action taken in this regard may be sent.

The teacher Smt. P. Chinnamma, is referred to the Manager, R. C. M. Elementary School, Rentachintala, for necessary orders.

Sd. Regional Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Guntur.'

It is seen that these proceedings refer to the appeal petition dated 15-2-1960 of the Manager, R. C. M. Elementary School, It is sufficient to notice that the earlier proceedings of the District Educational Officer, Narasaraopet, Re. No. 385/D/58 dated 5-1-1960 directed the Manager R. C. M. Elementary School, Rentachintala, to reinstate the petitioner immediately, and there was no direction therein as to the dress that the petitioner should wear.

8. It is argued by Shri Bapiraju that the petitioner has had no notice of the subsequent representation made by the Mission Authority which led to the direction as to her dress and that for that reason that order has to be set aside. Sri Bspi Raju has contended that once the said direction of the Educational Authority is vacated, the order of the Mission Authority falls with it. It has been submitted on behalf of the respondents that the proceedings dated 14-3-1961 of the Educational Authority meant to clarify its earlie-order dated 5-1-1960 and that it is not an order on an appeal as such of which the petitioner must have due notice.

9. We have scrutinised these orders carefully, and we find that the submission on behalf of the respondents is correct. The order of the educational Authority dated 14-3-1961 only restates what was directed in the order dated 5-1-1960. The mention of dress as per the principles and discipline of the convent cannot and does not feature this as an order on appeal as such entertainable under the Rules under the Madras Elementary Education Act, 1920. Our attention has been invited to Rule 13 Sub-rule (2) (vii), which specifically pro-vides that the management and the teachers have a right of appeal against orders arising from the rules and the appeal shall be disposed of by the District Educational Officer. It is also provided under the said rule that a second appeal shall He to the Divisional Inspector of Schools. But it is common case that there was no second appeal in the instant case. Thus it transpires that there was an appeal to the D. E. O. as contemplatedunder the rules and the petitioner herein was ordered to be reinstated. The proceedings dated 14-3-1961 cannot be construed as orders on an appeal as such. Such an appeal does not in fact lie under the rules. We therefore see no force in the contention that the Educational authority has passed a direction adverse to the petitioner on an appeal of which due notice was not given to the petitioner.

10. The next contention urged for the petitioner is that the schools run by the Roman Catholic Mission were secular institutions subject to the

ordinary law which prescribes no particular dress for teachers in schools, and so the direction that she could not wear a nun's dress is illegal. We are unable to see any substance in this line of criticism. The Roman Catholic Mission has undoubtedly a right to establish schools and manage their affairs. Articles 26 and 30 of the Constitution are relevant in this context. Omitting the unnecessary portions, Article 26 says:

'Subject to'public order, morality and health,every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right --

(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;

(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;

xxx'

Article 30 says :

'(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

(2) xxx'

The term 'denomination' means 'religious sect of body having a common faith and organisation and designated by a distinctive name'. Vide Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments v. Lakshmin-dra, : [1954]1SCR1005 . Thus, any religious body has a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes and manage their affairs. The Roman Catholic Mission with which we are now concern-ed, could therefore establish and maintain the Churches and manage their affairs in matters of religion. In this view, they could legally expel the petitioner from the community of sisters, otherwise known as nuns. Under Article 30 the Roman Catholic Mission could run schools and manage them. There is a special safeguard for State aid to their schools. The term 'administer' the educational institution is wide enough to take in enforcement of discipline in regard to dress and other matters.

11. It is common knowledge that in Convents the pupils are required to wear a dress of a distinctive pattern. It is not as if the teachers are not amenable to the discipline and they cannot be required to wear a distinctive pattern of dress. However, the question in this case is not that the petitioner herein, a teacher of the school, is required to wear a particular pattern of dress but that she shall not wear the 'religious habit of a nun' as obviously she was expelled from the com-munity of sisters. We are unable to see how the direction that the petitioner, an expelled nun, shall not wear the 'religious habit' of a nun,could be questioned when indisputably nuns have a distinctive dress known as 'the religious habit' which only nuns could wear. It is impossible to countenance the argument that the petitioner, an expelled nun, could wear the 'religious habit' of a nun. There is nothing in the chapter of fundamental rights embodied in Part III of the Consti' tution, whereunder such a right is expressed or could be inferred.

12. Yet another argument of Sri Eapiraju is that the schools run by the Mission are public institutions as they receive State grants and so the petitioner has the liberty of wearing the nun's 'religious habit'. This sumbission is also devoid of any merit. Under the Madras Educational Rules adopted in Anhdra Pradesh, public institutions are of two Classes: (1) those under the management of Government or local boards or Municipal councils known as institutions under public management; and (2) those under the management of private persons or associations known as institutions under private management. Public institutions under private managements are classified into aided and unaided according as they do or do not receive aid from public funds. It is therefore manifest that the schools run by the Catholic Mission do not cease to be under private management because they receive State grants. The management by the Mission could undoubtedly enforce discipline in the schools run by them. Thus the fact that their Elementary Schools receive State aid does not confer on the petitioner any exemption from the discipline enforced by the management.

13. We agree with the submission of Sri Chinnappa. Reddy appearing for the Mission Authority at the petitioner's contention that she could wear a nun's 'religious habit' could not be a right which could be recognised under the chapter of Fundamental Rights and much more so when she ceased to be a nun and for that reason she could not wear 'the religious habit' of a nun. We accept his further submission that the Mission Authority is a private body and the petition complaining of an infringement of a fundamental right does not lie against the said body. This is amply borne out by judicial authority.

14. The Supreme Court has observed in P. D. Shamdasani v. Central Bank of India Ltd., : [1952]1SCR391 that--

'The language and structure of Article 19 and its setting in Part III of the Constitution clearly show that the article was intended to protect those freedoms against State action other than in the legitimate exercise of its power to regulate private rights in the public interest.'

15. Vide also Smt. Vidya Verma v. Dr. Shiv Narain Verma, (S) : 1956CriLJ283 where it was observed that the exercise of a prerogative power of issuing writs would not arise against a private party.

16. For all these reasons, we are of the view that this writ petition must be dismissed. We accordingly dismiss the writ petition with costs. Adocate's fee Rs. 100/-.


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