Second appeal U/s 24 TN Recognized Private Schools (Regulation) Act available even with minimal changes in service conditions: Madras High Court

The language employed in Section 24 is that a teacher or other person or the educational agency are entitled to prefer second appeal. Therefore, even in respect of minor punishment falling under Section 23(b), the educational agency or the teacher or other person may file a second appeal. These were held by the High Court of Madras through the bench of Justice S.M Subramaniam in the case A. Thilakam v. The Joint Director/ Appellate Authority & Anr.(W.P.(MD) No.20302 of 2019
and W.M.P.(MD) No.16911 of 2019)

The crux of the case is the petitioner is working as a Secondary Grade Teacher in the 2nd respondent-School, which is a Government Aided School. The appointment of the petitioner was approved by the competent Educational Authority and the petitioner is working under the management of the 2nd respondent. the petitioner was imposed with an order of punishment on certain personal vengeance and extraneous circumstances. Several instances are stated in the affidavit for the purpose of assailing the impugned orders.

The Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the power of judicial review of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is to ensure the process through which a decision is taken by the competent authority in consonance with the provisions of the statute or rules, but not the decision itself. Therefore, the scope of adjudication of disputed facts is limited and such adjudication can be done in extraordinary circumstances where it is possible to form an opinion.  The counsel also submitted that the aggrieved person has to exhaust the statutory remedies provided under the Tamil Nadu Recognised Private Schools (Regulation) Act, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act” for brevity) for the better appreciation of facts. This apart, the factual findings recorded by the competent authority or the statutory authorities by conducting a full- fledged enquiry would be of greater assistance to the High Court for the purpose of exercise of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Thus, the aggrieved person need not be deprived of an opportunity of an effective adjudication under the provisions of the Act.

The single-judge bench of Justice S.M Subramaniam categorically stated that the appeal remedy before the tribunal under Section 24 extends to any alteration of service conditions in Section 23 after exhausting the right to seek relief before the competent authority, i.e, the first appeal. Thus stating “In the present case, the first appeal was decided by the Joint Director of Elementary Education (Aided Schools). Under these circumstances, the petitioner has to approach the Tribunal constituted for the purpose of adjudication of Second Appeal under Section 24 of the Act. The writ petition was instituted in the year 2019. Therefore, the petitioner need not be unnecessarily driven to the Tribunal for the purpose of filing a fresh appeal, as this Court is inclined to transfer the writ petition before the Tribunal for disposal of the case by re-numbering as Second Appeal under Section 24 of the Act. These being the factum established, this Writ Petition stands transferred to the Principal Sub Court/Tribunal, Pudukkottai District constituted under Section 24 of the Tamil Nadu Recognized Private Schools (Regulation) Act, 1973 for adjudication and disposal and the Tribunal is requested to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible. The Registry, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, Madurai is directed to transfer all the case papers to the Principal Sub Court/Tribunal, Pudukkottai District within a period of two weeks from today.”

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Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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