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The Madras High Court today pulled up a section of Tamil Nadu government teachers who are on strike, saying it affected students.
The court then directed the state government to file a report by September 14 on the steps taken to end the protests.
Justice N Kirubakaran made the observations on a petition by advocate A P Suryaprakasam, seeking a direction to the state government to form an expert committee to prepare students who scored low marks in NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) and provide them moral support.
In his order, the judge said, "Only five government school students from the state have managed to secure medical seats and protesting teachers should should feel ashamed of this fact."
"They should know the responsibility of their duty... such persons cannot involve in strikes," he said.
The petitioner submitted that the student community is not only in a state of shock, but also felt let down by the state and central governments.
He said it would therefore be appropriate and the need of the hour that those state syllabus students who had lost the opportunity of joining medical colleges along with future aspiring students, be counselled by their class teachers or any other school authorities to prevent tragedies such as Dalit student Anitha's suicide.
Anitha, daughter of a daily wage earner, allegedly hanged herself at her house in Ariyalur district on September 1 after she learned that the state was not exempted from the ambit of NEET.
The petitioner alleged that in several government schools, teachers are absenting themselves and not taking classes.
He cited the example of the Panchayat Union Middle School at Siruveliyanallur in Cheyyar, where the headmaster was absent continuously and not taking classes for more than three months, compelleing the villagers to lock the school.
When the matter of the strike came up, special government pleader T N Rajagopalan informed the court that the headmaster has been suspended and a charge memo issued to him on August 24.
The court asked the government why biometric system should not be introduced in state-run schools to prevent unauthorised absenteeism and whether it was viable to install CCTV cameras in schools to verify attendance of teachers.
Observing that equally committed, devoted and sincere teachers are also working in government schools and their contribution need to be highly appreciated, the court said it was only concerned with the erring teachers.
Noting that a section of teachers have been boycotting classes from this month, thereby spoiling the education of poor students, the court sought information from the authorities concerned on the number of teachers unions striking without attending classes, among others.
It asked if retired teachers were also functioning as office bearers of the teachers unions, whether private school teachers are participating in the strike or only a section of government and aided school teachers alone were doing so.
The court also sought to know how many schools were affected due to the strike and what steps the government had taken to prevent the teachers from boycotting the work.
The judge then posted the matter to September 14.
The Joint Action Council of Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO) had given a call for the strike from September 7 to press for their demands, including restoration of the old pension scheme.