Half a century of battling red tape

Jaipur: While the tenacity of retired government school teacher Ram Avtar Sharma is admirable, his story is also a stark reminder of how indifferent and apathetic our system is.

Sharma is struggling to get two salary increments due to him for the past 57 years.

Panchayat resolution caught in the red tape

He began teaching at the government school at Pandur village in Barmer district of the state in 1958. Two years later, in 1960, the Rajasthan Panchayat Samiti passed a resolution saying that a teacher who doubles the number of students in his school, and ensures that no student leaves the school for a year, will be given two increments as incentive.

Sharma was able to achieve the target twice – in 1960 and then in 1961. There were 38 students in his school and Sharma took the number to 138. He claimed that his efforts helped increase enrollment in the school by 360 per cent and not a single student dropped out of his school.

Sanction came 17 years later

The information was sent to the SDM and the collector. Despite Sharma’s claims being found correct, the file kept shuttling between the district panchayat office and the Panchayats Directorate for 17 years. It was in 1977 that the increments were finally approved.

Refused cash award

The Panchayats Department then sent the case to the finance department, which rejected it. The Secretary of Panchayats Department, in 1985, decided that Sharma would be given Rs 250 as a cash prize in lieu of the two increments. But Sharma refused to accept it.

Sharma, in still making rounds of offices of ministers and the Secretariat. Now his case is before a cabinet sub-committee chaired by Rajendra Rathore. On hearing the case, PWD Minister Yunus Khan, a member of the committee, remarked that the case was older than his age. He urged Rajendra Rathore to hear the matter and do justice.

Ram Avtar Sharma said, “I have complete faith in the system and I hope that justice will be done one day. I am only fighting to get my rights. I was honoured by the then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh in 1989. In 1991, I was honoured by the then President. Many ministers have issued orders after looking at my records, but I have not received justice yet.”

We will treat it as a special case: Minister

Yunus Khan, member of the cabinet sub-committee said “The government will take up Sharma’s case as a special one and if need be, it will be put up before the cabinet for consideration. He has kept all records and papers, some dating back to 1960, intact. The committee has heard his case. It will be ensured that justice is done to him.