“She is confident of securing cent percent results this year,” says Jayachandran, husband of Mallika Janet, a visually challenged teacher who secured a High Court order allowing her to continue as PG Assistant in a government-aided school at Sirkazhi here.
Ms. Janet moved the Madras High Court after the Lutheran Mission Central Higher Secondary School sought a fitness certificate to allow her continuance as a Tamil teacher for higher secondary students.
Says Mr. Jayachandran, “The High Court order is more than a judicial precedent as it will deter management-run schools from acting arbitrarily, despite getting all grants from the government.”
Ms. Janet, with close to two decades of service, lost her vision to progressive myopia in August last. She was allowed to continue teaching with the aid of a B. Ed trainee as a standby in class until April, when she was asked to produce the fitness certificate.
According to the school, the three percent reservation quota for differently-abled was for those visually challenged at birth and did not cover acquired physical disability.
Ms. Janet decided to secure relief under Section 47 of Persons with Disabilities (Equal opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act for protection of employment rights of the disabled.
“When we looked around for a precedent, there was a similar case of a visually challenged person, who lost vision while in service at a middle school 25 km away from Kanyakumari. The school teacher, on request, was transferred to an elementary school, and he continues handling all subjects,” says Mr. Jayachandran, citing a report.
Speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, school sources, who were clueless about the High Court order, revealed that there were no issues until they received anonymous petitions criticising the continued service of a visually challenged person. With the judgment, the school management will have to release her salary stalled since June. According to the school, it was frozen under the instructions of the Education Department till resolution through court.
“She had been producing cent percent results all through, until last year. Even after losing her vision, she still secured a 96 percent pass percentage,” says Mr. Jayachandran. She was given a token cash award of Rs.100 by her school for her achievement. Ms. Janet, with three more years of service, had continued teaching awaiting High Court orders.
For the students, who were oblivious to the initial notice by the school or the High Court ruling, Ms. Janet is a popular teacher.
“She is so thorough with the syllabus that she explains the lesson to us, and then asks one of us to read it out aloud. Her PTA assistant would stand by to write down on the board and to maintain discipline in class,” say students, speaking to The Hindu outside the school campus.
For them, Ms. Janet is a portrait of inspiration. They recognise her grit to battle it out under a sudden, acquired physical adversity at the twilight of her service.
“The court order is more than a judicial precedent, as it will deter management-run schools from acting arbitrarily”