Termination Of University Employee Illegal– SC Orders Reinstatement Of Assistant Professor Appointed Under UGC Tenth Plan
A three-judge Bench of Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice BV Nagarathna while allowing the appeal of the aggrieved Appellant-Assistant Respondent of the Respondent-University ordered for his reinstatement.
Counsel Mr. Amit Anand Tiwari appeared for the Appellant, Senior Counsel Mr. Jitendra Mohan Sharma, and Counsel Mr. Ravinder Agarwal appeared for the Respondents.
The Court further observed that the appointment of the Appellant was permanent and that he was a regular employee entitled for reinstatement.
An appeal was preferred against the judgment of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which had dismissed the Writ Petition of the Appellant and held that his termination from the post of Assistant Professor was valid and legal.
In this case, the University Grants Commission (UGC) under its Tenth Plan had issued grants to the Respondent-University including the grant of financial support for one lecturer in the Department of Political Science. This was followed by the appointment of the Appellant as an Assistant Professor in the Department. Thereafter, the Appellant received a letter from the Registrar of the University stating that since he was appointed under the Tenth Plan of UGC which was about to expire, his services would automatically be terminated. After which, he received another letter by which he was informed about his post being abolished.
The Appellant contended before the Court that the Expert Committee of the UGC had recommended for the reinstatement of the Appellant holding that his termination was 'perverse and incorrect', to which the Respondent did not object.
While the UGC argued that through its recommendation, it had informed the Respondent that in case the reinstatement Appellant could not be done due to the abolishment of the department, he should be absorbed in any other department or faculty of the University.
While the Respondent-University argued that the appointment of the Appellant was tenure-based and not permanent and the post to which he had applied was under the Tenth Plan and as mentioned in his appointment letter, his post was likely to be continued only based upon his performance and availability of the post.
The issue which was dealt with by the Court was whether the termination of the services of the appellant was legal and in accordance with the law.
The Apex Court, after considering the contentions of the parties at length, held that it was evident on reading the appointment letter that the appointment of the Appellant was not on a contractual basis.
Further, the Bench observed that there was no material on record to show that any objection was raised by the Respondent-University to the representations made by the UGC recommending the Appellant's reinstatement.
The Court also made the following observations –
- The Appellant's appointment was not contractual;
- No mention of abolition of Appellant's post when communication was addressed to UGC for sanctioning of grant for Eleventh Plan;
- Adequate strength of students for Department continuity;
- UGC had funds to pay as grants;
- No abolition of the post held by the Appellant;
- The representation made by UGC that termination of Appellant was improper and illegal; and
- No objection was raised by the Respondent to the aforesaid representation of UGC.
With the aforesaid findings, the Court set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court holding that the termination of services of the Appellant was illegal and not in accordance with law, and allowed the appeal.
The Court directed for the reinstatement of the Appellant to the same post as held by him prior to his termination and granted him the benefit of continuity of services for the purpose of pension and other retiral benefits. However, the Court declared that the Appellant would not be entitled to salary till the date he is reinstated, on the principle of 'no work no pay.'