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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Madurai bench imposes fine of Rs.50000/- on school - Justice to HM after 39 years !!

‘Justice delayed is Justice denied’ – is an oft repeated cliché. Everyone talks about stress and so did the Supreme Court Chief Justice at a Conference. The current judges-to-population ratio in India is estimated at 17 judges for every million citizens –far lower than most developed and even developing countries in the world. Not sure, whether this aptly replies the pendency and delayed verdicts.


A small school at Rameswaram ~ file photo

In my school days remember this short story in English lesson ~ one by the eminent Russian –Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1872.  Titled - "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" – it  is a story of a man sent to prison for a murder he didn't commit ~ the brilliant narrative took the form of a parable of forgiveness.This short story is of  Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov, a merchant living in a town in Russia, Vladimir. One day he decides to go to a fair as a business venture, but his wife pleads for him not to go because of a nightmare she had the previous night. Aksionov doesn't consider his wife's dream and leaves for the fair. Aksionov meets another merchant on his way, and the two decide to travel together. They check into an inn and have a good time drinking, then they retire separately.

Next morning Aksionov wakes up early  and leaves soon to be stopped and arrested by Police of murdering the other merchant ~ evidence being a blood stained knife found in the bag of Aksinov; he is sentenced and sent to Siberia. Resigned to his fate, Aksionov spends twenty-six years in Siberia, becoming  a mediator of sorts in the prison, and he is well respected by the other prisoners and also guards alike. One day some new prisoners, one of them being MakarSemyonich, are transferred to the prison. After overhearing several conversations, Aksionov is convinced that MakarSemyonich is the man who committed the murder for which Aksionov was blamed. Eventually Aksionov confronts MakarSemyonich, but he denies committing the murder.Later he stays put in not telling the authorities of an  escape attempt of Makar – eventually the killer admits his wrong deed.  Aksionov forgives Semyonich, and feels as if a terrible weight had been lifted. MakarSemyonich confesses to the authorities, and the process for Aksionov to be cleared is begun. Unfortunately, Aksionov dies before he can reach home, but he dies in peace.  This story was adapted into television series, Katha Sagar (1986) directed by ShyamBenegal. It was adapted into a CBS Radio Mystery Theatre program, All Things Are Possible (1978) directed by Himan Brown. Simple, yet a resounding story which will make the readers feel bad for the hero.

Now read this newsitem in today’s New Indian Express titled
 “39 years on, Namakkal school fined Rs 50K for forcing HM out.

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs.50,000 on a government-aided school for victimising a woman who had earlier served as the Headmistress there, but suspended and terminated from employment for not promoting two “ineligible” students, even after an Appellate Authority (AA) gave an order in her favour.The order, in which the court here said the government officials “danced to the tunes of the school management”, brought relief to the 74-year-old woman after about 39 years since she was suspended from the service.

Petitioner M Jegajothi said she was appointed as HM of National Girls HSS at Rasipuram in Namakkal district in 1967. But when she refused to promote two “ineligible” students, the daughters of highly-influential government officials, she was placed under suspension in 1977 and subsequently terminated from service.Her appeal to the AA against the termination order was dismissed. But Namakkal sub-court allowed her appeal and also remanded the matter to the AA for fresh disposal. Following this, the AA directed the school management to reinstate her in 1983.But the school management appealed against the order before the AA. While the appeal was still pending, the management submitted an application before the joint director of the School Education requesting to allow appointment of a new HM. After instructing Jegajothi to join the service within a prescribed date, the joint director gave permission to appoint a new HM if she did not join the service within the given time.As the petitioner could not join duty within the date fixed by the school management, the latter appointed a different person as HM. Meanwhile, the AA also dismissed the appeal filed by the school management.

But without challenging the dismissal order, the school management appealed before the HC against the AA’s order of directing it to reinstate Jegajothi in service in 1984. The same year, Jegajothi also appealed before the HC, seeking a direction to pay her salary arrears based on the order passed by the AA. Jegajothi’s petition was dismissed by the court, which in 1990 also dismissed the school management’s appeal. Jegajothi then appealed against the single judge’s order. When the case was being heard, Jegajothi, appearing as party-in-person, contended that the letter sent by the joint director of School Education could be received only two days before the cut-off date for joining and the school management refused to extend the time for joining.

“This is a classic case of victimisation of the HM— a spinster — even at the age of 74. Almost 16 years after retirement, this elderly person is forced to enter the corridors of the court fighting against the mighty government and a highly-influential school management,” said a Division Bench of Justices K K Sasidharan and B Gokuldas.So the school management should pay the arrears with 14 per cent interest per annum along with the fine of `50,000 before July 18, the Bench said.

One hopes that there is no further appeal on this.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st July 2016.


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