Delay in Divisional Commissioner’s approval cannot disentitle teachers from additional increment: Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: In a writ petition challenging denial of additional increment to District Awardee Teachers, the division bench of A.S. Chandurkar and Vrushali V. Joshi, JJ. held that the government circular would not apply retrospectively. Circular for discontinuation of grant of additional increment to honour teachers will not affect petitioner’s prior claim of selection/ recommendation. The Court directed the Zilla Parishads of Amravati and Bhandara districts to continue to honour the teachers with the District Award.

Clause 12 of the circular dated 12-12-2000 issued by the State of Maharashtra stipulates a scheme of honouring selected teachers with a District Award every year on Teacher’s Day on September 5, giving an additional increment, independent of yearly increment. Clause 12 has been deleted vide government circular dated 04-09-2018.

In the instant matter, petitioners are teachers at schools run by Zilla Parishad at Amravati and Bhandara districts. In both cases, the teachers were selected by the district level committee, prior to circular issued on 04-09-2018, but the recognition certificate was issued later with Divisional Commissioner’s approval. Thus, the petitioners are not being granted benefit of additional increment.

The Court noted that selection of teachers eligible for the award is an important step in the whole process. Committee recommendations of teacher’s names at Zilla Parishad level, approved by the Divisional Commissioner would relate back to the date on which such teachers were selected/identified by the Committee. Giving retrospective effect does not appear to be the intention of the Circular, as held in Urmila Dattatrya Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra, WP 1954 of 2018, decided on 25-01-2019.

Thus, it held that if selection/identification of a teacher for district award dates before 04-09-2018, then there is no reason to deprive him/her only on the ground of approval by Divisional Commissioner after 04-09-2018. Further, the deletion of Clause 12 of the government circular would take effect from 04-09-2018. It would not adversely affect the claims of teachers eligible for District Awards for grant of additional increment.

The Court opined that the grant of additional increments ought to have been continued and its benefits should have been received by the teachers till superannuation. Thus, the Court directed the Zilla Parishads of Amravati and Bhandara to continue honouring teachers by granting them the benefit of additional increment under Clause 12 of the Circular dated 12-12-2000.

[Waseem Farhat Khalil Farhat v. State of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 218, decided on 24-01-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioners: Advocate A.R. Deshpande;

For Respondents: Advocate S.S. Jachak, Advocate S.M. Bhangde and Advocate Ratnakar Khobragade.

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