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A. Florance Vs. the Director of School Education and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1979)1MLJ374
AppellantA. Florance
RespondentThe Director of School Education and anr.
Excerpt:
- .....punish the staff. therefore, the direction given by the first respondent to the management of the school to dismiss the petitioner does not appear to be valid or tenable at all. since the school gets grant-in-aid from the department, it has to obey the directions issued from time to time. but the directions can only relate to the conduct of the school and not in relation to the appointment and dismissal of the non-teaching staff, as that power vests only with the management of the school. further, the petitioner has not been found guilty of any misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a clerk either by the criminal court or by the management of the school which is the disciplinary authority. the conviction for an offence under section 101 of the act related to his conduct outside.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G. Ramanujam, J.

1. The petitioner was a clerk in St. Antony's High School at Gape Comorin in Kanyakumari District. He became a member of the Kanyakumari Fishermen Co-operative Society in the year 1958. The Director of Fisheries nominated him as the President of the said Co-operative Society under by-law 20-A of the by-laws of the society. He was the President till 30th June, 1963. Thereafter, by proceedings dated 8th July, 1963, the Director of Fisheries has nominated one Seshiah Arachi as the President. The petitioner was asked by the Assistant Director of Fisheries, Nager-coil by his letter dated 22nd July, 1963, to hand over charge of the Society to the newly nominated President. The petitioner sent a reply that he had already handed over charge of the Society to one Thomas who claimed to have been elected as the President. Thomas also sent a letter dated 20th November, 1963, to the Assistant Director of Fisheries stating that he has been elected as President of the Society by the general body on 30th June, 1963, and that he has taken charge of the Society from the petitioner. Since there was dispute in regard to the taking over charge of the Society by the newly nominated President, proceedings were taken under Section 107 of the Madras Co-operative Societies Act (LIII of 1961) against the petitioner as well as the said Thomas. In those proceedings an order was passed by the District Magistrate directing the petitioner to hand over possession of the Society to the nominated President. The petitioner filed an appeal to the Sessions Court stating that he has already handed over charge of the Society to one Thomas as he claimed to have been elected by the general body as President of the Society and, that, therefore-he is no longer in a position to hand over charge of the society to the nominated President. The Sessions Court, however dismissed the appeal. Subsequently, on a complaint filed by the Assistant Director of Fisheries under Section 101 of the Act, the petitioner was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 100 by the District Magistrate. On appeal, the fine was reduced to Rs. 25. The petitioner has duly remitted the fine.

2. Taking note of the fact that the petitioner has been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 25 in proceedings under Section 101 of the Co-operative Societies Act, the Chief Educational Officer, Tirunelveli-2 directed the management of the School in which the petitioner has been working as a clerk to dismiss him forthwith. Following that direction, the District Educational Officer, Nagercoil insisted on the management dismissing the petitioner. The management, however, did not dismiss the petitioner but represented to the District Educational Officer that the offence for which a fine of Rs. 25 was imposed on the petitioner is not an offence involving moral turpitude, that the offence for which the petitioner has been fined was only technical in nature and that in any event, the offence has nothing to do with his official duties as a clerk. Notwithstanding the said representation, the educational authorities insisted that unless the petitioner was dismissed from service, the grant-in-aid given to the school will be withheld. Since the management was unwilling to dismiss the petitioner as directed by the educational authorities, the Director of School Education by his letter dated 21st April, 1973 sent an ultimatum to the school authorities in the following terms:

Even though the District Educational Officer has directed to take appropriate proceedings against him several times, no action appears to have beeen taken against him. You are directed to take appropriate action on the clerk within one week on receipt of this notice and report through the District Educational Officer. If you do not take further action on this matter, the staff grant for your school will be stopped.

Apprehensive of the threatened action by the Director of School Education to withhold payment of staff grant to the school, the petitioner has approached this Court praying for a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the first respondent dated 21st April, 1973.

3. The petitioner's case is that the disciplinary control only vests with the management and not with the respondents and, therefore, the respondents have no authority to direct the management to dismiss the petitioner. His further case is that the fact that he was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 25 in proceedings under Section 101 of the Co-operative Societies Act, has nothing to do with his conduct as a clerk and that the said offence, not involving any moral turpitude, cannot be taken intb account either for initiating disciplinary proceedings or for punishing him.

4. In the counter-affidavit filed by the respondents, it has not been disputed that the disciplinary control over the petitioner is with the management of the school and not with them. But the stand taken by them is that so long as the school gets the grant-in-aid from the Government, the management is bound to obey their orders. It has been admitted that no specific rules have been framed in the Private Secondary Schools Scheme to regulate the disciplinary proceedings in respect of the non-teaching, staff in aided secondary schools and that the management has got the exclusive power to appoint, dismiss or punish the non-teaching staff. But it is said that the management of the school is to obey the departmental instructions issued from time to time since the school is getting the grant for non-teaching staff as well. It is not as if the first respondent directed a disciplinary enquiry to be initiated against the petitioner. By giving the direction to the management to dismiss the petitioner, the first respondent has assumed the role of the disciplinary authority which did not vest in him under the Private Secondary Schools Scheme. The mere fact that the grant is given to the school for the non-teaching staff, does not mean that the first respondent has got the power to appoint, dismiss or punish the staff. Therefore, the direction given by the first respondent to the management of the school to dismiss the petitioner does not appear to be valid or tenable at all. Since the school gets grant-in-aid from the department, it has to obey the directions issued from time to time. But the directions can only relate to the conduct of the school and not in relation to the appointment and dismissal of the non-teaching staff, as that power vests only with the management of the school. Further, the petitioner has not been found guilty of any misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a clerk either by the Criminal Court or by the management of the school which is the disciplinary authority. The conviction for an offence under Section 101 of the Act related to his conduct outside the official duties. In those proceedings, the dispute was whether the petitioner was in actual charge of the Society at the time when a new President was nominated. The petitioner's case was that he has already handed over charge to a person who claimed to have been elected as President by the general body of the Society. It is true that the Criminal Court has held that the petitioner is bound to hand over charge to the nominated President. But in the circumstances of the case, it cannot be said that the charge made against the petitioner involves any moral turpitude. Therefore, the direction given by the first respondent to the management of the school to dismiss the petitioner cannot be sustained as legal. The writ petition is, therefore, allowed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 100.


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