Academic Qualification And Post Qualification Experience At Entry Level Post Two Different Ends, Not Possible To Meet - SC
A two-judge Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Abhay S. Oka allowed a batch of appeals preferred regarding the termination of Lecturers in private Ayurvedic College for the lack of qualification after the college was taken over by the State of Bihar through The Bihar Private Medical (Indian System of Medicine) College (Taking over) Act, 1985.
The Court in this context held that the academic qualification and post-qualification teaching experience of 3 years at the entry-level post i.e., Lecturer, in this case, are two different ends which are not possible to meet.
The Apex Court was hearing a batch of appeals preferred by five appellants who were holders of degree in Ayurveda and were appointed as lecturers in respective private Ayurvedic Colleges and with the passage of time they were promoted.
The State of Bihar in exercise of its legislative power enacted the Act called The Bihar Private Medical (Indian System of Medicine) College (Taking over) Act, 1985 to take over the Private Medical Colleges of the State of Bihar.
The State Government under this act took over the management of one Sri Dhanwantri Ayurved College and the hospitals attached to it under certain terms and conditions. The State Government then created a screening committee to look into the records of the individual teachers. After the committee had submitted its report the State Government took a decision to absorb the services of 103 teaching and non-teaching employees, including the appellants
The teaching and non-teaching employees who were dissatisfied with the recommendations challenged them before the High Court. The High Court while deciding on the appeals directed for the constitution of a fresh screening committee which was directed to examine the cases of the employees of the college and submit a report to the State Government.
A grievance was raised regarding the second screening committee but it was finally constituted and submitted a report after which the government accepted the recommendations and absorbed 23 teaching employees out of 84 and no non-teaching employee out of 167 was considered fit for absorption. Thus, the State Government issued order of termination of the appellants.
The termination was challenged before the High Court and the High Court ordered for a fresh review screening committee to examine the qualifications of the teaching/non-teaching employees. The Review Screening Committee in its report recommended for absorption of 24 teaching and 42 non-teaching employees and the rest 99 were found unfit for absorption.
This resulted in the third round of litigation where the impugned judgment held that they were nonsuited as for teaching staff, with the academic qualification one is also supposed to hold post qualification teaching experience in any institution of three years for the post of Lecturer and since none of the appellants were holding three-year post qualification experience. They did not have the required three years post qualification experience which is why they were initially appointed as teachers in private Ayurvedic College.
The Apex Court while allowing the petition observed that, "the very premise on which the High Court has proceeded to examine the eligibility of the teachers as on the date they initially entered into service in the year 1978-1979 and arriving to the conclusion that the teachers who were not holding the post-qualification teaching experience of three years from recognized Ayurvedic college as referred to under the Statute would not be eligible for absorption in terms of the notification dated 09th December, 1986, in our considered view, is a clear misconception of law and deserves rejection."
The Supreme Court also proceeded to ask the counsel for state that, "how far it is practically possible that when you don't permit a person to be recruited into service as a teacher on the basis of his academic qualification, how he will gain post-qualification teaching experience of three years as the condition of eligibility and how both these twin conditions would meet together?" The Counsel could not come up with an answer to satisfy the court.
The Court also observed that "the justification tendered by the Committee, in the first instance, that the appellants were not holding the post qualification teaching experience of three years on the date when they were initially appointed in the private Ayurvedic College in the year 1978-1979, is not in conformity with the mandate of the Act 1985 read with notification dated 09th December, 1986."
The Court went on to observe that, "the High Court under the impugned judgment has completely overlooked the scheme of the Act 1985 read with notification dated 09th December, 1986 pursuant to which the exercise was to be undertaken by the State Government for absorbing teaching/non-teaching employees of private Ayurvedic College and this was the apparent error committed by the High Court which, in our view, is not sustainable in law and deserves to be set aside."
The Court directed that out of the 5 appellants, 4 who had attained superannuation were to be treated to be in continuous service and their service shall be treated as a qualifying service for all practical purposes, including for pension and other retiral benefits. As for the one who had not attained the age of superannuation to be reinstated.