A pre-primary teacher at a government school in Kerala’s Malappuram has slammed authorities of the institution for allegedly not letting her resume work after her maternity leave since she gave birth only four months after her second marriage.
From a poor background, the woman had been separated from her first husband for a while and planned to get married again last year.
As the divorce proceedings were getting delayed, she began living with her fiance. They married legally in June 2018 and she availed of the maternity leave four months later.
What the Woman Alleges
In her police complaint, the woman said when in January she returned to the school after her leave ended, the authorities did not let her resume work, saying that she had applied for maternity leave just four months into her marriage, according to The Times of India (TOI).
The woman had been serving as a daily wage staff in the institution for the previous five years.
“I have worked in the school till the day before my delivery in October last year. I had already applied for three months’ leave. But, when I came after the maternity leave in January, I was not permitted to rejoin duty,” she told PTI.
She also lodged a police complaint against the school and the parent and teachers’ association (PTA) for alleged character assassination and verbal abuse. In the complaint, she has alleged that they made derogatory remarks about her second marriage and pregnancy at a recent PTA meeting held at the school.
She alleged that they had verbally insulted her about her marital status and pregnancy.
“At a meeting held in the school early this month, the authorities had made insulting remarks on my character in front of students' parents... they insulted my modesty... More than the loss of the job, it has hurt me... I cannot even face others now,” she told PTI.
The woman approached the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to seek action against the school authorities. The Commission asked the Deputy Director of Education (DDE) to look into the matter. When the summer vacation ended, the DDE completed its enquiry and issued a directive to the school authorities to allow the woman to rejoin service. The woman said even after the DDE directed the school authorities to consider her plea on “humanitarian grounds”, they were loathe to do so.
“We approached the school authorities citing the direction from the DDE. They convened a meeting in which they verbally insulted me besides refusing to allow me to rejoin. I filed a police complaint on 14 June. The school authorities don’t have the right to discuss my personal life at a PTA meeting. I don’t know why they are bothered about my marital life and my pregnancy period,” the teacher said.
What the School Claims
The school management, however, refuted the allegation, saying she was a temporary staff appointed by the PTA and her removal from service had nothing to do with her remarriage or pregnancy.
A senior school official said the woman had been removed as they had decided to recruit more qualified hands based on parents’ demands.
“She was a daily wage staff recruited by PTA to look after pre-primary children. When she had gone on leave, we had to appoint another staff. And it has nothing to do with her pregnancy or remarriage as is being alleged,” the official, who wants to withhold his name, said.
The PTA is the appointing authority for such staff and has the right to terminate their services, he said.
The official, however, said he had not been present during the meeting in which the woman had allegedly been insulted.
Sandhya Devi, sub-inspector, Kottakkal police station, told PTI that the woman had lodged a complaint against the head master, the PTA president and some others for allegedly insulting her during the meeting.