The Meghalaya High Court has quashed a 2018 state government policy barring teachers of government-aided colleges from contesting elections and holding posts in political parties.

The High Court remarked that teachers of government-aided colleges are not found to hold an office of profit and quashed the notification aimed at instilling discipline and order among the teachers in the state.

The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government led by National People's Party leader Conrad K Sangma in 2018 issued an order barring teachers from engaging in political activities citing that schools and colleges should be kept "free from politics".

Justice HS Thangkhiew held, "The impugned amendments as given in the impugned notification dated 23.03.2021, amending the Aided College Employees Rules, being the product of a flawed decision-making process, are held to be unsustainable, and as such, the impugned notification is set aside and quashed."

The state government had formulated the Meghalaya Education Policy, 2018 and an order was issued in March last year restricting teachers of government-aided Colleges from taking part in political activities and political associations.

Advocate H.R. Nath appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate General A. Kumar appeared for the Respondents.

The state government order was imposed to "instil discipline and order" in the recognized schools, and to ensure a healthy environment for the growth of children studying in the schools of Meghalaya.

The judge termed it "misplaced" the arguments put up by the government counsel clubbing college teachers under the purview of the Meghalaya School Education Act, 1981 as the policy deals specifically with schools and has no bearing on government-aided private colleges.

"As per the discussions made and taking into account the settled legal position, the petitioners in the considered view of this court, are not found to hold an Office of Profit, and if, they satisfy the other conditions as laid down in Articles 102(1) and 191(1), cannot be debarred by the rules as amended from contesting in elections or holding political office," the order stated.

"Further the contention that the government exercises deep and pervasive control over the services of the petitioners and the institutions has not been borne out by the materials on record," the Court said.

Cause Title: Shri. Brightstarwell Marbaniang & Ors. vs. State of Meghalaya & Ors.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs