The Karnataka High Court has held that the provision of Section 98 of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 is applicable to the unaided educational institution run by the linguistic minority institution. Section 98 relates to retrenchment of employees.

The Court dismissed an appeal that challenged an order passed by the Single Judge whereby the respondent’s petition having been favoured the termination notice came to be voided, coupled with a direction for reinstatement with immediate effect.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice Krishna S. Dixit observed, “The last contention advanced on behalf of the appellant-institution that it imparts education in the field of Dental Science & Technology and it is exclusively governed by the provisions of the Dentists Act, 1948 and therefore, 1983 Act is not applicable, does not impress us, even in the least. The provisions of 1948 Act in essence intend to regulate the standard of professional education whereas, the provisions of Sections 97 & 98 of the 1983 Act in substance intend to secure the service conditions of employees of Educational Institutions. Thus, they are poles apart. By no stretch of imagination, one can be read into the other.”

The Bench said that the legislature in its wisdom has taken special care to protect the tenure of employees of the private Educational Institutions by restricting the power of management to cut short the same casually.

Senior Advocate Dhananjaya V. Joshi appeared for the appellant while Senior Advocate Srinivasa Raghavan appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the Single Judge had directed the payment of back-wages to the writ petitioner employee at the rate of 25% of the basic pay without emoluments within four weeks, for a period of twelve months. The liberty was also reserved to the appellant-Institution to seek prior approval of the competent authority for discharging the respondent from service.

The senior counsel for the appellant argued that the Single Judge failed to see that the provisions of Section 98 of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 is not applicable to the unaided educational institution run by the linguistic minority institution. In support of this submission, he placed reliance on the decision of the Apex Court in TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481. In the alternative, according to the counsel, the permission taken from the Dental Council of India complied with the requirement of Section 98(1) of the 1983 Act.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “The text of Section 98(1) of the 1983 Act, employs the term ‘any employee’; the word ‘Employee’ is defined under Section 2(15) to mean a person employed in an educational institution. It obviously includes in its sweep any & every employee regardless of designation and nature of functions or the kind of educational institution, except those excluded under Section 2(14), which defines ‘Educational Institution’. This becomes clear from the text of sub-section 2 of Section 98 which employs the terms ‘teaching staff’ and ‘aided educational institution’. These terms are conspicuously absent in sub-section 1. This is where the maxim Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius becomes invokable.”

The Court further noted that Section 97 of the Act prescribes the modalities of resignation, sub-section 3 which begins with the negative terminology is apparently mandatory which ensures volunti of the employee in the matter of resignation and Section 98 secures the tenure by restricting management’s power to remove or retrench the employees.

“The underlining philosophy of these provisions is that an employee whose tenure is secured will be in a better position to discharge his duties efficiently and that is necessary in public interest. it hardly needs to be emphasized that the education and educational institutions play a pivotal role in nation building and therefore a legislature rightly feels the need for protecting tenure of service and its conditions of these employees. In a sense, these provisions aim at social security as well, like the Labour Laws do for the workmen”, added the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ appeal.

Cause Title- Rajarajeshwari Dental College and Hospital v. Dr. Sanjay Murgod (Neutral Citation: 2023:KHC:37264-DB)

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