The Bihar government may move the Supreme Court against a Patna high court order that second-category teachers in the state (called Niyojit teachers) should be given the same salary as regular ones.
The verdict of the division bench was pronounced on Tuesday.
According to advocate general Lalit Kishor, the government categorically told the high court that bearing the huge financial load of paying the prescribed scale to all teachers would be next to impossible. “Still, the court has given its ruling, and I will give my opinion to the government. It is for the government to take a call. I think it should move (the apex court),” he added.
Department of education principal secretary RK Mahajan said the government will examine its legal options after seeing the order. “We opposed it in court as the recruitment procedure – and even the recruiting agency – for these teachers is different. Regular teachers are a dying breed because the government is not making any appointment on the old scale, and the posts are getting abolished with their retirement,” he added.
A senior official of the department of education said that the current governmental expenditure on school teacher salaries is around Rs 9,500 crore, even though it was yet to achieve the ideal teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30.
“Should we fill all the posts, the government would need six lakh teachers and the entire education budget of Rs 25,000 crore would fall short. Even on the present strength, the requirement would double to around Rs 18,000 crore,” he said, adding that the number of regular teachers on the prescribed scale has come down to 70,000.
The second-category teachers were appointed in bulk by the Nitish Kumar government to improve the adverse teacher-pupil ratio in the state. They number around 3.60 lakh, while there are around 70,000-odd teachers who draw salaries in accordance with the prescribed payscale. There is a definite contrast in the salary structure of the two categories of employees, who work in the same schools and teach the same subjects.
While the average salary of second-category teachers rose to around Rs 20,000 after a hike in 2015, the pay for regular teachers is around Rs 40,000 – which could go up further following the implementation of the seventh pay commission report.
Kumar came up with an expected sop for second-category teachers before the assembly elections, announcing a different payscale for fixed-pay school teachers and librarians, effective from July 1, 2015. However, their service conditions were not finalised even after that, and the teachers’ continued to demand salaries in tune with the prescribed scale.
Even during the evaluation of matriculation and intermediate answer books earlier this year, the teachers boycotted work to press for their long-pending demand. This caused a major embarrassment to the government, and the results got delayed.
Both Kedar Pandey and Shatrughan Prasad Singh, president and general secretary of the Bihar Secondary Teachers’ Association respectively, said the government should honour the high court verdict if it was serious about ensuring quality education in the state. The association was the oldest petitioner in the case in 2009, after which seven other teacher unions also moved the court. All the petitions were clubbed together by the court.
“Expecting quality education is sheer wishful thinking if teachers are made to suffer, no matter how much the government spends on infrastructure and incentives. The government should accept this reality,” said Pandey.
He said a delegation of the association would meet the government with its prayer. “It is a big day for teachers as they have finally managed to get rid of the disgrace they had to live with for years,” he added.
No of Niyojit teachers: 3.60 lakh
Average salary: Rs 20,000
Expenditure on salary: Rs 9500 crore (approx.)
Total education budget: Rs 25,000 crore
No. of regular teachers: 70,000
Average salary: Rs 40,000