M A I N   N E W S

Arrears for Punjab teachers working as Principals
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The move of successive governments in Punjab to make school masters and lecturers officiate as Headmasters and Principals and thereby save on salary and allowances to be paid against higher grades has boomeranged.

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the state government asking it to pay arrears to all such teachers based on the grades for the jobs on which they officiated.

But instead of doing the needful, the panicky state government has issued instructions withdrawing all drawing and disbursing powers from officiating school heads, thereby throwing the administration of schools into a chaos.

Over the years, the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) meeting was deliberately postponed for a record 17 times so that senior lecturers could be kept from getting higher grades, saving the cash-strapped government some money.

Many masters and lecturers retired from service after putting in 20 to 25 years of service without getting a single promotion. There have been others who started their service as officiating heads of schools and retired in the same capacity.

Affected by the government’s unfair rationale, 1,081 such teachers filed 25 writs asking to be paid for the work they had done.

The High Court and the Supreme Court have both ruled in favour of the teachers and asked the government to pay arrears based on the grades in which they officiated for the period they performed duties as officiating heads of schools.

It is estimated the government will have to dish out Rs 15 crore in arrears.

In a knee-jerk reaction, the Punjab Government has issued a letter withdrawing financial powers from all “stop-gap” Headmasters and Principals.

In hundreds of schools where the senior-most master (for high schools) and lecturer (for higher secondary schools) were granted financial powers to pay the salary of school staff, these powers stand withdrawn.

In all such schools, the officiating head has been asked to draw the salaries and other expenses through neighbouring schools that have regular appointees as heads.

A Principal heading a higher secondary school draws a salary in the scale of Rs 15,600 - 39,100 besides a grade pay of Rs 6,600. A Headmaster who heads a high school draws a salary in the grade of Rs 10,300 - 34,800 besides a grade pay of Rs 5,400.

Lecturers and masters draw much lesser salary. Those officiating as school heads are expected to get several lakhs of rupees in arrears.

The move is likely to have wide-reaching ramifications in most parts of the state which has a large number of schools without regular heads.

In Tarn Taran district, there are around 30 schools out which only 14 have regular Principals. The 16 schools that are without regular heads will now have to rush to neighbouring schools with regular heads to get even sundry expenses released, thereby adversely affecting routine work.

Due to the ad hoc attitude of the state governments in the education sector, there are schools that have been without regular heads for as long as 18 years.

In light of this development, it is expected the nearly 2,000 more officiating heads are likely to move court to get similar relief.





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