Kashmiri Pandit Teachers Jobs Regularised: What Kejriwal Said In TV Interview, What Delhi Govt Said In Court, What Court Itself Ordered

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 30, 2022 05:09 PM +05:30 IST
Kashmiri Pandit Teachers Jobs Regularised: What Kejriwal Said In TV Interview, What Delhi Govt Said In Court, What Court Itself Ordered Arvind Kejriwal speaking on 'The Kashmir Files' in New Delhi Assembly
Snapshot
  • “The Delhi government was never interested in regularising the services of Kashmiri Pandit teachers. In fact, the Delhi government opposed the regularisation till the very end,” the Govt School Teachers Association (Migrant) is reported to have said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal recently claimed in an interview that he 'regularised the jobs of around 233 Kashmiri Hindu teachers' who were serving the Delhi government. He added too that this was not done for many years by the previous Congress and BJP government's of the city-state.

A teachers’ body of Kashmiri Hindus in New Delhi has condemned “the statement given by the Delhi chief minister. Not only that, the Govt School Teachers Association (Migrant) has said that Arvind Kejriwal’s government in fact tried to prevent their service regularisation.

A timeline of events

2010

The body said that Kashmiri Migrant Teachers (KMT) had approached the Delhi High Court for regularisation of their services on 6 June 2010.

2015

In the consequent verdict given in 2015, a single-judge bench regularised the services of KMTs.

The Delhi government under Arvind Kejriwal however challenged the judgement in front of a two-judge bench of the HC.

2018

But the bench, in May 2018, ruled in the favour of regularising the services of KMTs, after which the Kejriwal government moved the Supreme Court against the judgement.

2019

The apex court too dismissed the appeal by Delhi government and thereafter the services of KMTs were regularised in 2019.

What Was The Kejriwal Government’s Stand Through The Case Hearings?

The regularisation judgment of 18 May 2015 had issued directions to the Government of NCT of Delhi that KMTs be given emoluments and benefits which were paid and extended to regular employees.

Opposing this judgement, the Kejriwal government contested that Kashmiri migrant teachers could neither claim nor be granted the benefit of regularisation as they were appointed on a contractual basis owing to the prevalent situation in Kashmir. Further, the government said that at the time of their initial appointment, it was made clear to Kashmiri Hindu Teachers that such appointment was purely on compassionate grounds and that it would not confer on the teachers the right to claim regularisation.

The Delhi government had also argued that as these teachers were “appointed without following any recruitment procedure” and could not claim parity with a regular employee, they had to compete in a process of open selection.

What Were The Arguments Made By Kashmiri Pandit Teachers During The Hearings?

The Kashmiri Pandit Teachers submitted in the court that they had readily accepted contractual employment as school teachers “at a time when they did not have any other alternative or option to support themselves or their families” and because “most of the migrant families were unemployed and lacked the means to support their own livelihood.”

They further stated that “their helplessness and the consequent lack of bargaining power, along with the hope that soon they may be in a position to go back to their homeland were the reasons that they accepted the contractual terms specified by the Government.” However, for the last 24 years, the KMTs said, they were unable to return to their homeland because the situation in the valley had not improved sufficiently.

They argued that their initial acceptance of the contractual terms cannot preclude their right to claim regularisation, and that it cannot mean that they should accept the patently unequal and discriminatory conditions imposed on them.

KMTs termed these conditions as “manifestly unconscionable” as they were a result of peculiar circumstances of the respondents and the inequality of bargaining power. It was argued that “the teachers, who fled the valley, fearing for their lives, with little or no belongings, had no choice.”

The teachers also pointed to the fact that they were assigned the same duties and responsibilities as those of the regular teachers, and sometimes even more, including the Election Commission’s work or as examiners for CBSE examinations. Yet, the pay and benefits remain unequal which hindered the principle of equal pay for equal work as a Directive Principle of State Policy.

The HC ruled in the favour of KMTs saying, “petitioners’ hope of returning to their homes, and for peace in the Valley may not yet be attainable; but the acceptance of their claims, should act as a balm, rekindle their confidence in the society and our commitment to equality and equal opportunity. Hopefully, this is the new day to dawn and the new evening to descend.”

Thereafter, the Supreme Court too dismissed a petition by the Delhi government challenging the above-mentioned order by the Delhi HC.

What Is Arvind Kejriwal Saying Now?

Facing heat for allegedly mocking the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus and calling The Kashmir Files a fake film (jhuthi film), Kejriwal tried to assuage the situation by claiming, “I don’t do politics on the Kashmiri Pandit’s sufferings.” He said, “We did all we could for all the Kashmiri Pandits who came to Delhi. In 1993, they took jobs as contractual teachers. Since then, they have worked as temporary teachers. In between, the BJP came to power, the Congress came to power, none of them made these temporary teachers permanent. We made these teachers permanent.”

Even Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia repeated the claim, and said “a total of 233 Kashmiri migrant teachers were struggling to get regularised for years in Delhi. They were contractually employed. They were forced out overnight; they didn’t have time to collect certificates. These Kashmiri teachers were threatened of being fired if they didn’t produce certificates. It was chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who decided to support them and regularise their employment.”

Kashmiri Pandit Teachers Refutes Kejriwal’s Claim

“The Delhi government was never interested in regularising the services of Kashmiri Pandit teachers. In fact, the Delhi government opposed the regularisation till the very end,” the Govt School Teachers Association (Migrant) is reported to have said.

Dilip Bhan of Migrant Teachers Association countered Arvind Kejriwal's claims in conversation with Navika Kumar of Times Now. He said, “it was Bharatiya Janata Party’s Madan Lal Khurana’s Government in power (in 1994). In order to give us some relief, he gave Kashmiri Teachers jobs on contracts. The idea was that in a few months, terrorism would tone down in Kashmir, and the Pandits would return, but it did not happen. In 2010 we went to the High Court. In 2015, the Single Bench gave a verdict in our favour.”

Further elucidating that at that time, the Kejriwal-led AAP was in power, Bhan claimed, “we went to meet him and requested him to regularise the jobs. He assured us, and we waited.” Later Bhan was informed that the verdict of HC in favour of KMTs was challenged in front of the double bench by the AAP government. Finally, after the petitions were rejected in HC and SC, the Delhi government was directed to give Kashmiri Pandits permanent jobs.

“It was the court that ordered them to give us jobs, not the Kejriwal government,” said Dilip Bhan.

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