The Supreme Court has directed the K.J. Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre, Maharashtra to compensate the three lecturers whom it had terminated in 2004, stating that their appointments were void ab initio, as they were not qualified. However, the Court refused to reinstate the lecturers into service.

A bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal heard the matter.

Senior Advocate J P Cama, appearing for the appellants contending that appointment was void ab initio argued that that even if the 1989 Regulations of the Medical Council of India are perused, none of the three lecturers were qualified. Furthermore, any compensation to be paid will be a huge financial burden on the appellants.

While Advocate Gaurav Gupta appearing for the lecturers submitted that it is an admitted position that when they were appointed, they were qualified as per the prevailing Regulations. They further pointed out that there was no interim relief granted by the Court during the period of the last sixteen years, and the appellants failed to implement the order of the High Court.

In the factual matrix, the respondents were three lecturers, and as per their averments, were regularly appointed as full-timers. At the relevant time, the Medical College was affiliated to the University of Mumbai. It is their case that they fulfilled the qualifications laid down by the University of Mumbai for appointment to the post of lecturer. From the year 1998, the Medical College was affiliated to the 1st respondent – the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences.

1. Dr. Medha V Joshi, B.Sc. (Microbiology, Chemistry), M.Sc. (Biochemistry by research), and PhD (applied Biology by research) was appointed as a lecturer by the appellants on July 31, 1991 in Biochemistry.

2. Mrs Anjali Khavnekar, B.Sc. (Microbiology) and M.Sc. (Microbiology) was appointed as a lecturer by the appellants on November 9, 1993 in Microbiology.

3. Dr Smita Karandikar, B.Sc. (Zoology), M.Sc. (Zoology), and Ph.D. (Zoology) was appointed as a lecturer in Physiology on July 4, 1991. According to the case of the said three lecturers, they

Now, the Medical Council of India framed the Minimum Qualifications for Teachers in Medical Institutions Regulations, 1998 under which Clause 2 of Schedule-I provided that in the Departments of Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Microbiology, non-medical teachers may be appointed to the extent of 30 percent of the total number of posts in the department.

Therefore, it was argued by the lecturers that the said Clause 2 provided that for non-medical teachers, the qualification of M.Sc. was sufficient for appointment as a lecturer. However, the respective employments were terminated with effect from June 21, 2004 on the ground that their employment was void ab initio as they were not qualified.

Subsequent to this, the lecturers approached the Grievance Redressal Committee of the University. Consequently, the committee passed a resolution recommending the reinstatement of the said three lecturers through a proposal to made by the lecturers for approving their appointment to the University. While the University shall approve the appointment of these three lecturers with retrospective effect from the year 1998.

The High Court was then approached by the appellants, where the Court holding that the 1998 Regulations will have no application in the present matter, directed the appellants to comply with the recommendations of the Committee. The bench then had noted that even the appellants agreed that the said three lecturers were duly qualified in terms of the Regulations existing at the time of their appointment. Further and the Medical Council of India never raised any objection to their appointments till the date the Medical College got affiliated to the 1st respondent – University.

While granting compensation, the bench was of the opinion that "...The impugned judgment is based on a concession by the appellants that on the date of the appointment, the said three lecturers were qualified. The appellants did not comply with the impugned judgment. Therefore, we are of the view that reasonable compensation will have to be granted to the lecturers in lieu of their reinstatement in exercise of our jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India".

The Court granted compensation to the lecturers considering the following questions, which had to furnished through affidavits:

1. Whether they had secured any employment either on contract or otherwise after June 21, 2004;

2. If they were in employment, the details of their employment;

3. They shall also to disclose the emoluments received by them during the course of their employment either on contract or otherwise, if any; and 4. Whether they have reached the age of superannuation.

Resultantly, in addition to Rs 50,000/- each, towards litigation, the Court granted:

1. Dr. Medha V Joshi Rs.11,00,000/-

2. Mrs. Anjali Khavnekar Rs.7,20,000/-

3. Dr. Smita Karandikar Rs.7,10,000/-

The Court, however, denying reinstatement observed, "We must note here that the stand of 3rd respondent – the Medical Council of India, all along, is that the said three lecturers were not qualified to teach in the Medical College. Considering the passage of time and the stand of the 3rd respondent – the Medical Council of India, we are of the view that it will not be appropriate at this stage to grant reinstatement. Moreover, after June 21, 2004 till date, none of the three lecturers have worked as a teacher".

While disposing of the appeals, the Court further directed the compensation amount to be paid to them within a period of two months, on failure to which the same will carry interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum from the date of this judgment till the payment of the amounts.

Cause Title: K.J. Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre & Anr. v. Maharashtra University of Health Sciences & Ors. etc.

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