Chandigarh, May 25
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the continuation in service of teachers working in private aided colleges of Chandigarh, “who are parties to these cases and have not yet crossed 60 years of age”. The direction will remain in force till further order.
The Bench of Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur asserted Panjab University teachers, governed by Panjab University Regulations, were allowed to continue up to 65 years. It failed to see prima facie why teachers of private aided colleges affiliated to the same university should not get the same benefit, when –– according to the respondents –– the same regulations applied.
The order came as the Bench made it clear that discrimination, in its opinion, prima facie even in regard to age of superannuation could not be made between the teachers employed in private aided colleges and those employed in university colleges. The Bench, at the same time, made it clear that the conclusions were purely tentative and a more elaborate consideration may be warranted after the replies were filed.
The matter was placed before the Bench following the filing of an appeal and three writ petitions with common issue as to whether teachers working in private aided colleges operating in the Union Territory of Chandigarh against sanctioned grant-in-aid posts were entitled to extension of their age of superannuation from 60 years to 65 years on a par with university college teachers. The teachers were, among others, represented by senior advocate DS Patwalia and advocates Sameer Sachdeva, Gaurav Rana, Amar Vivek Aggarwal, Pritish Goel and Sai Anukaran.
The Bench observed it was not in dispute that the age of superannuation of the teaching faculties in private aided colleges in Chandigarh was same as their counterparts in the State of Punjab in view of notification dated January 13, 1992.
But another notification dated March 29, 2022, was issued by the Government of India, superseding the earlier notification and notifying “the Union Territory of Chandigarh Employees (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2022” and the conditions of service applicable the Central Civil Services of Government of India became applicable to “Group A, B, C and D employees of U.T., Chandigarh”.
The Bench observed that UT counsel placed reliance on a memo dated December 20, 2022, issued by the Education Secretary, stating that conditions of service in case of teachers and equivalent cadre of UT, working in government colleges in Chandigarh till March 31, 2022, would remain unchanged and regulated as per notification dated January 13, 1992.
“When the notification stood superseded by the 2022 Rules, we fail to see how it can continue to apply to anybody including private aided college teachers prima facie,” the Bench added. It also took note of the UT counsel’s contention that there was a condition while giving grant-in-aid to private managements. It was not to be given to employees continuing in service beyond 58 years. Also, a condition was mentioned in the appointment letters issued to the teachers they would be governed by the Panjab University Rules.
Since Panjab University colleges teachers were retiring at 60 years only, the teachers of private aided colleges could not seek to continue in service beyond 60 years
“The condition in the order of grant-in-aid cannot prima facie be an excuse for not permitting the teachers to continue beyond 60 years if they are otherwise entitled to do so as per law. If really there is a condition in the appointment letters that Panjab University regulations would govern their conditions of service, prima facie how could the UT administration say that Punjab Government Civil Service Rules apply to them. There is no satisfactory answer for this inconsistent stand of the UT administration,” the Bench added.
HC terms 'unfortunate' that UT, Centre did not file replies
- The Bench described as unfortunate that UT Chandigarh and the Union of India chose not to file replies in spite of sufficient time having been granted. This was despite the fact that they were “fully aware that at the end of every month some of the teachers, who are parties, would be retiring”.
- Similar issue on enhancement of superannuation age of university teachers from 60 to 65 years was raised. An interim order granted on August 22, 2016, permitted their continuance beyond 60 years to 65 years. When the order was sought to be vacated, varsity counsel vehemently opposed the vacation of the interim orders.
- The Bench added the Counsel for Union of India was unable to explain why the recommendation of the Panjab University for enhancement of superannuation age to 65 years has not been approved by the Government of India, though the same had been communicated to it on December 26, 2011, and more than 10 years elapsed since then.
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