Niyojit Teachers Cannot be Terminated from Service Despite Failing Competency Test : Patna HC

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A bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar granted relief to approximately 3.5 lakh contractual teachers appointed at the Local Bodies in Bihar, who have been serving in government schools for years

In a significant ruling, the Patna High Court has clarified that the latest service rules for Niyojit teachers, also known as Panchayat or Local Bodies’ teachers, do not include provisions for their termination from service if they fail to clear competency tests.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar, made this assertion while addressing a series of petitions.

The bench emphasised that while those who qualify in the competency tests would enjoy better service conditions, including government employee status, those who fail or refuse to attempt the tests will still retain their employment.

The court noted, “there is no compulsion on the Niyojit Teachers to sit for the competency test, as was the case earlier in the efficiency test. A Niyojit Teacher could as well opt not to appear for the competency test, in which event, he or she loses the privilege of migration to the cadre of Exclusive Teachers, but still is enabled continuation as a Niyojit Teacher under the Local Bodies Teachers Rules- 2020.”

This ruling comes as a relief for approximately 3.5 lakh contractual teachers in Bihar who have been serving in government schools for years.

Under the Exclusive Teachers Rules 2023 introduced by the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, competency examinations were made mandatory for Niyojit teachers to attain government employee status. Each teacher is granted a total of five attempts, comprising three online and two offline tests, to clear these examinations.

The court's order highlighted a departure from previous rules, such as the efficiency tests prescribed in 2006, 2010, and 2012, which mandated termination after two unsuccessful attempts. However, the Exclusive Teachers Rules 2023 do not impose termination for failing to qualify in the competency test.

The advocate general acknowledged that some Niyojit teachers who qualified as state school teachers under the new rules have declined to join due to postings in other districts. These teachers were initially appointed under the Bihar Panchayat Primary Teacher (Appointment and Service Conditions) Rules, 2006, and later regulated by the Bihar Panchayat Teachers Rules, 2012.

The Court also addressed the contention of equal pay raised by the Niyojit Teachers. It clarified that under the new policy, there will be two categories of teachers: State School Teachers and Exclusive Teachers (government teachers), both enjoying pay parity. Those continuing as Niyojit Teachers would be individuals who either refused to participate in the competency tests or failed to qualify. Consequently, they cannot invoke the principle of 'equal pay for equal work.’

The court further noted that Niyojit Teachers, along with Exclusive Teachers, would gradually be replaced by the cadre of government teachers, leading to a unified cadre with essential educational and training qualifications, tested through written examinations.

Regarding policy matters, the court emphasised that judicial interference is warranted only in cases of patent illegality, obvious unreasonableness, or brazen arbitrariness. However, none of these issues were found in the creation of the new cadre of Exclusive Teachers, as per the rules framed under Article 309 of the Constitution of India.

Furthermore, the court scrutinized the proviso to Rule 4, which leaves the fate of these teachers to a committee constituted by the Department. Presently, the committee has recommended termination for individuals who fail to qualify after three attempts in the competency test, a decision deemed contrary to the statute itself, as argued by the petitioners.

In this regard the court observed that, the impugned rule does not impose termination on teachers failing to qualify in the competency test, and it even allows 'Local Bodies' Teachers to abstain from the test, “which puzzles us too, as to why then, there is a challenge made.”

Consequently, the Court, after considering the contentions of all the parties, disposed of the writ with the following directions to the State Government :

(i) The proviso to Rule 4 of the Elementary School Teachers Rules-2023 is struck down.

(ii) Rule 12 of the Elementary School Teachers Rules-2023 also is struck down.

(iii) The State shall provide for a grievance redressal mechanism as is provided for the Niyojit Teachers by the Local Bodies Teachers Rules-2020.

(iv) The State shall also provide for career progression and stipulate a ratio in the different cadres so that every person in each of the cadres will be entitled to be considered for promotion, subject to reasonable conditions as laid down by the State.



Cause Title: Pramod Kumar Yadav v State of Bihar [CWJC 1942 of 2024]