While upholding the termination of a teacher accused of harassing girl students in a Private school, the Supreme Court observed that pendency of criminal trial does not have any bearing on the domestic inquiry against the teacher.
THE SECRETARY, LUCY SEQUEIRA TRUST AND ANR.
KAILASH RAMESH TANDEL AND ORS.
- The respondent was the assistant teacher in the school run by the appellant.
- In 2009 the school gave warning to the teacher on misbehaving with an adolescent girl studying in the school, later in 2012 a mother of a teenage girl made a complaint against the school teacher, in 2013 another girl filed an FIR against the teacher, then in 2014 the father of another victim girl lodged an FIR .
- Under Section 354(a) of IPC read with Section 9(f), 10 and 11 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the School teacher got arrested and kept for 12 days under the custody.
- Later an Inquiry Committee was constituted consisting of the Convenor being Nominee of the Appellant, Nominee of School teacher and a State Awardee Teacher.
- The Inquiry Committee examined both the girls as well as other witnesses.
- The inquiry concluded the termination of the convicted school teacher, but the nominee of the school teacher and a state of body teacher refused to sign it saying that since the matter is pending in the court, it would be contempt of court to take any decision ourselves.
- The court said: “If the Nominee of Respondent No.1 and the State Awardee Teacher had not given any final decision with clarity, since in their view it would have amounted to contempt of court, the Appellant was justified in relying upon the conclusions drawn by the Convener of the Inquiry Committee and then pass an order of termination. In our view, the approach adopted by the Management was not only fair and transparent but was in keeping with what is expected by the Management where allegations of sexual harassment of adolescent girls are in issue.”
- Further, the court said: “The Tribunal, as well as the High Court, failed to appreciate the matter in correct perspective. They ought to have accepted the decision taken by the Management. We, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the decision of the Tribunal, as well as the High Court and affirm the order of termination pursuant to resolution dated 26.09.2014 passed by the Appellant.”