Ethical Education: Calcutta High Court Sets Conduct Standards for Teachers

In the case of Dr. Sima Banerjee vs Dr. Barnali Chattopadhyay, the Calcutta High Court recently issued guidelines aimed at maintaining professional conduct among teachers. Justice Shampa Dutt (Paul), a single judge, emphasized the importance of upholding certain standards, including:

  • Respect for students: Teachers should treat students with dignity and fairness, fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  • Competence: It is essential for teachers to demonstrate expertise in their subject matter and teaching methods.
  • Collegiality: Teachers should collaborate with colleagues and contribute positively to the academic community.
  • Compliance with institutional policies: Following college policies and procedures related to teaching, research, and student support is mandatory.
  • Fairness and impartiality: Teachers are expected to evaluate students’ work objectively and provide constructive feedback.
  • Continuous improvement: Engaging in professional development activities to enhance teaching skills and staying updated in their field is encouraged.
  • Integrity: Teachers must uphold honesty and transparency in all academic and administrative dealings.
  • Professionalism: Maintaining appropriate boundaries and behavior in interactions with students, colleagues, and staff is imperative.

Defamation Case at Hooghly Women’s College

The Court addressed a plea by the Principal of Hooghly Women’s College seeking to dismiss a defamation case filed by a teacher. The judge lamented the influence of politics in education, highlighting its detrimental effects on students’ welfare. 

The prosecution claimed that since becoming principal in 2015, the petitioner spread false rumors about the respondent teacher, including allegations made during a public interview on August 9, 2018, accusing the teacher of exacerbating chaos in the college.

Allegations in the Interview

The complainant alleged that an interview aired by ABP Ananda on August 10, 2018, featured the petitioner criticizing the political and chaotic situation at Hooghly Women’s College. The petitioner allegedly named the complainant teacher and Priyanka Adhikary, associating them with illegal activities at the college. 

After reviewing the case, the Court determined that the statements made by the petitioner would fall under the ‘Exceptions’ to Section 499 (Defamation) of the Indian Penal Code. The court concluded that the ingredients necessary to constitute the offense of defamation under Section 500 were absent in this case.

Court’s Ruling

Upon reviewing the written complaint, the Court found no evidence indicating that the statements made against the complainant were intended to cause harm or with the knowledge that they would harm the complainant’s reputation. Consequently, the Court concluded that the statements made by the petitioner in the interview fell under the ninth exception of Section 499 IPC. Therefore, the Court dismissed the case against the petitioner.

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About the Author: Payal Singh