School Teacher Suspended in Tamil Nadu for Writing an Article

Uma Maheswari

In the domain of education, only few individuals possess the unwavering dedication whose efforts shape the future of countless individuals. Uma Maheshwari is a teacher working at the Government Higher Secondary School in Nellikkupam village in Chengalpattu district, Tamil Nādu. Who is a versatile individual whose diverse roles extended beyond labels.  As a writer, she crafts narratives and initially started writing in kamadhenu magazine, suvadu website, tamilar perspective, new teacher, namma kalvi Tamil Nadu education environment.

She also published books in the names Education Issues – Towards Solution (February 2021), Education in Current Context (December 2021), What is our education? (July 2022), Educational Environment in Tamil Nadu (December 2021), I want a heart with a heart (March 2023), Reverse Classroom (as of August 2023), Deceived Public Education (December 2023).

As her role as a teacher, she inspires and empowers her students and she worked as an IEDSS coordinator, National curriculum core committee member year of 2006, She has participated in the preparation of Teachers Handbook for Textbooks for students of classes VI to VIII, she had a Membership of National Education – Arts Programme in 2005, From 2006 to 2010, she has participated in 7 district level seminars and 4 national level seminars, 1 International Seminars in 2008, She was selected by the Government of India and participated in the 15-day CCTT Puppetry Training held in Guwahati, Assam in 2007. Beyond these roles Maheshwari embodies versatility, talking on various other responsibilities such as a human right defender.

As a cultivated writer, On March 5 her article titled “the government trying to cripple primary education?” was published on the Aramm website. Her article said that the education of the children in primary education is being hampered due to the 15 days of continuous agitation by secondary school teachers.

The district educational officer (DEO) Mr. Ravichandran and district chief educational officer (CEO) Karpagam went to investigate teacher Uma Maheshwari at the school where she was working. Her mobile phone was confiscated and she was questioned for two hours. She was been asked several questions. The next day the District Education Officer Ravichandran visited the school and handed over the suspension order to the teacher. The suspension order mentioned that her post has been terminated on 6th march on the day when she was been working till evening and has a recorded attendance for the same. She was in the school with the students correcting her papers with her signatures on it.

Suspending individuals for expressing their views goes against the fundamental principle of freedom of expression in Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which not only guarantees the right to life but also ensures a dignified existence.  Every individual has the right to offer suggestions, provide constructive criticism, and provide suggestion to the government on its functioning. Human rights activists have a crucial role in engaging in discussions and critiques aimed at enhancing societal well-being and keeping the government accountable to the people’s needs. Such actions by the government indicate its vulnerability and disable the efforts of educators who try to uphold the right to education while expressing their views.

The Constitution not only guarantees the right to life but also upholds the dignity of every individual. Furthermore, in a democratic society, citizens have the inherent right to engage with their elected government, offer criticism and advocate for necessary reforms. By silencing voices, the government not only weaken the principles of democracy but also obstructs the essential mechanism. It is important that the government upholds the rule of law and respects the constitutional rights of its citizens promoting an environment where dialogue and review are encouraged rather than suppressed.

As a law student from Tamil Nadu pursuing studies in Karnataka, witnessing the actions taken on Uma Maheshwari, a teacher and human rights defender, is profoundly disheartening. Uma Maheshwari’s commitment to education and human rights advocacy exemplifies the democratic ideals our society cherishes. However, the recent actions of the Tamil Nadu Education Department, including the forcible confiscation of Uma Maheshwari’s mobile phone and violence to issue an apology, signify a troubling disregard for fundamental rights and freedoms.

As future legal professionals, we recognize the importance of upholding the rule of law and defending human rights. Uma Maheshwari’s case bring out the critical need for vigilance in protecting individuals who courageously speak out against injustice. The government’s actions not only violate upon Uma Maheshwari’s rights but also send a chilling message to others who seek the support for positive change within society.

In light of these developments, it is important that we stand in accord with Uma Maheshwari and demand accountability from the authorities responsible for these violations. Upholding the principles of justice and fairness is essential for the preservation of a just and democratic society. Furthermore, this case highlights the importance of legal protections for individuals engaged in human rights advocacy.

Ashlynn Dania is a law student from Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian Law college , currently interning at People’s Watch, Madurai.


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