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Court Cuts: When theology teacher's plight, working without pay for nearly a decade, moved SC to (not) counsel belief in miracles

The Supreme Court's vacation bench, comprising justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy, on 10 June, was surprised to learn that an assistant teacher in the Malda district of West Bengal, had been teaching theology in a Madrasa without receiving salary for nearly a decade.

The appellant, Obidur Rahman, was appointed on 23 September 2006, against a vacancy reserved for Scheduled Tribes, although he belongs to the general category. His contention was that the Employment Exchange had sent only the names of the general category candidates, as the ST candidates were not available to teach the subject.

This was contested by the State of West Bengal, which claimed that the Madrasa made a mistake of seeking only the names of general category candidates from the Employment Exchange.

When Justice Roy came to know that the appellant was working without the salary all these years, he became curious, and asked his counsel the reason for the same. His counsel said he is 47 years old, and has to support his family, and therefore, could not qualify for any other job at this age.

Justice Roy further quizzed the counsel about the subject of theology, being taught by the appellant. When the counsel struggled for an answer, Roy suggested that it could be about the lifestyle of the Prophet, and the earthly belongings. The fact that he has been teaching without salary shows his deep interest in the subject, Roy further observed.

Adjourning the case to post-vacation, Roy asked the appellant to stick to the post, and observed, "even miracles happen", and added, as if to dispel the impression the bench was likely to favour him, "it is not an advice from the court".

On 11 August 2008, the Calcutta high court had quashed the appointment of the appellant to the post, which is now under appeal before the Supreme Court.

Photo by Shawn Rossi.

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