The Calcutta High Court issued guidelines delineating the expected conduct for teachers, emphasizing professionalism and the avoidance of political entanglements.

A petition was submitted by the Principal of Hooghly Women's College, aiming to dismiss a defamation case lodged against her by a faculty member of the college.

A Bench of Justice Shampa Dutt (Paul) outlined a set of professional standards for teachers while observing, “It is very unfortunate that under political influence, the primary purpose to provide education is completely overlooked, such hostile atmosphere in an educational institution goes against the welfare (which is paramount) of the students whose future is in the hands of these colleges.”

The Court lamented the detrimental impact of political interference on educational institutions, underscoring the paramount importance of safeguarding the welfare of students. The guidelines were:

“College teachers are expected to adhere to professional standards of conduct, which include: -

1. Respect for students: Treat students with dignity and fairness, fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

2. Competence: Demonstrate expertise in their subject matter and teaching methods.

3. Integrity: Be honest and transparent in all academic and administrative dealings.

4. Professionalism: Maintain appropriate boundaries and behavior in interactions with students, colleagues, and staff.

5. Fairness and impartiality: Evaluate students' work objectively and provide constructive feedback.

6. Continuous improvement: Engage in professional development activities to enhance teaching skills and stay current in their field.

7. Collegiality: Collaborate with colleagues and contribute positively to the academic community.

8. Compliance with institutional policies: Follow college policies and procedures related to teaching, research, and student support.”

Advocate Apalak Basu appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Goutam Brahma appeared for the Respondent.

According to the prosecution's case, the petitioner, upon assuming the role of principal in 2015, purportedly propagated false rumors regarding fictitious conspiracies involving the respondent teacher.

Further allegations were made regarding a public interview conducted on August 9, 2018, where the petitioner criticized the ongoing situation within Hooghly Women's College, implicating the teacher in exacerbating chaos. The interview, as claimed by the complainant, was broadcasted by ABP Ananda on August 10, 2018, wherein the petitioner accused the teacher, along with Priyanka Adhikary, of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), of involvement in various illicit activities at the college.

The Court concluded that the alleged imputations made by the petitioner fell within the exceptions to defamation outlined in Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Court said, “The facts as stated in the written complaint in this case comes under the 9th exceptions as laid down under Section 499 of I.P.C. and thus the ingredients required to constitute the offence alleged under Section 500 of I.P.C. is clearly absent in the present case.

Consequently, the Court quashed the defamation case against the petitioner.

Cause Title: Sima Banerjee v. Barnali Chattopadhyay


Petitioner: Advocates Apalak Basu, Abhradip Jha, and Jagriti Bhattacharya

Respondents: Advocates Goutam Brahma, Tapash Das, Pampa Ghosh, and Arijit Dey

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