How to the section 8 Delhi school education act.

In LPA 37/2022-DEL HC- Sec.8(4) of Delhi School Education Act,1973 mandates that employee cannot be put under suspension unless approval is received from Director of Education, clarifies Delhi HC
Justices Satish Chandra Sharma & Subramonium Prasad

New Delhi, October 17, 2022:The Delhi High Court has reiterated that the words of the Statute must be understood in their natural and ordinary sense according to their grammatical meaning unless such a conclusion leads to absurdity or there is something in the context of the Statute to suggest the contrary.

A Division bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed the instant appeal instituted by the appellant in the present case seeking to assail the judgment dated December 10, 2021 passed by the Single Judge in W.P.(C) of 2021 whereby the Single Judge had set aside the Order of Suspension dated February 24, 2020 and the Order dated August 20,2020 extending the suspension of the first respondent. The Single Judge also held that the first respondent shall be entitled to back-wages.

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The Division bench was of the view that it failed to find any reason to interfere with the judgment passed by the Single Judge

Factual matrix of the case was such that the first respondent herein was appointed as Computer Teacher on ad hoc basis in the School of appellant on April 3, 2006 and the appointment was to continue till May 12, 2006. It was stated that on July 18, 2006, the first respondent was confirmed as TGT Computer Science (Grade-IV) in the Appellant School.

It was further stated that a complaint was filed by the first respondent herein regarding sexual harassment by the fifth respondent. Subsequently an FIR was filed by the first respondent under Section 294, 354, 354(3A), 354(D), 506, 509 IPC.

In pursuance of the same, a cross-FIR was registered by the fifth respondent under Section 341 IPC.

Proceedings were also initiated by the first respondent against the fifth respondent before the Delhi Commission for Women.

The first respondent was put under suspension on February 24, 2020. The facts further reveal that suspension of the first respondent was extended on August 20, 2020. The Director of Education granted his approval with retrospective effect from February 24, 2020. The first respondent was finally dismissed from service on August 16, 2021.

The narrow compass in which the matter was argued before the Single Judge was whether the suspension of first respondent was in accordance with the provisions of the Delhi School Education Act, 1973.

The Single Judge by the judgment impugned held that the suspension of the first respondent was in violation of the provisions of the DSE Act inasmuch as the Appellant School did not take the approval of the Director of Education within 15 days from the date of suspension. The Single Judge, therefore, set aside the Order of Suspension . The said judgment was challenged by the appellant in the instant appeal.

After considering the submissions, the Court deemed it apposite to refer to relevant provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973.

Thereafter , the Court stated that the short question that arose for consideration was whether the Order of Suspension dated February 24, 2020 could survive beyond a period of 15 days or not.

In view of the same, the Court noted that the question as to whether the order of suspension received, expires after 15 days from the date of communication in the event no order of the Director of Education approving the same is received for the same period is no longer res integra.

It was further noted by the Court that section 8(4) and 8(5) of the DSE Act have been legislated to protect the employees of a private school from the harassment of school authorities. Section 8(4) of the DSE Act mandates that an employee cannot be put under suspension unless an approval is received from the Director of Education, the Court noted.

Proviso to sub-Section 4 of Section 8 of the DSE Act carves out an exception that in certain circumstances, in case of gross misconduct where the school cannot wait for the approval of the Director of Education, the school if it is satisfied that immediate suspension of the employee is necessitated for gross misconduct, as is prescribed under Section 9 of the DSE Act, can suspend an employee without waiting for approval of the Director of Education. The second proviso makes it clear that such suspension shall be in force for a period of 15 days and unless is communicated and approved by the Director of Education within 15 days, the suspension lapses, the Court further noted.

It is settled law that the words of the Statute must be understood in their natural and ordinary sense according to their grammatical meaning unless such a conclusion leads to absurdity unless there is something in the context or in the object of the Statute to suggest the contrary, the Court opined.

At the outset the Court thus observed that the first respondent was put under suspension on February 24, 2020 and the approval of Director of Education ought to have been received on or before March 11, 2020 and pursuant to the said date, the first respondent could not have been kept under suspension and the order of approval granted by Director of Education on March 11, 2020 would not revive the order of suspension which had lapsed on March 11, 2020.

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This Court, therefore, did not find any reason to interfere with the judgment passed by the Single Judge. The LPA was hence dismissed.

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