Termination of Service Has No Nexus With Discharge of Public Duty: MP High Court Dismisses Writ Against Private Educational Institution
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently dismissed a writ petition on the ground that the Petitioner was assailing her termination, which was issued by a private unaided minority institution, pursuant to its own bylaws. The Court held the petition to be not maintainable as the bylaws had no statutory force, corollary to which the issuance of order of termination could not be brought within...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently dismissed a writ petition on the ground that the Petitioner was assailing her termination, which was issued by a private unaided minority institution, pursuant to its own bylaws.
The Court held the petition to be not maintainable as the bylaws had no statutory force, corollary to which the issuance of order of termination could not be brought within the ambit of "an act in discharge of public duty".
Placing reliance on the observations of the Apex Court in St. Mary's Education Society and Anr. v. Rajendra Prasad Bhargava & Ors., Justice M.S. Bhatti observed-
A perusal of the aforesaid conclusions as arrived at by the Apex Court reflect that their Lordships held that an educational institution may perform certain functions touching various facets of public life and in the societal sphere. The Apex Court also clearly held that, even if the educational institution imparting public duty, the act complained of must have a direct nexus with the discharge of public duty. The Apex Court further held that the actions and decisions taken within the confines of an ordinary contract of service, having no statutory force, cannot be recognized as being amenable to challenge under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The Hon'ble Supreme Court further observed that challenge has to be one concerning element of public law and a mandamus cannot be issued, if the action falls within the ambit of a "private character".
Facts of the case were that the Petitioner was challenging her termination from the school run by the Respondent/Society. Aggrieved, the Petitioner moved the Court by filing a writ petition and praying for the impugned order of termination to be set aside and that she be reinstated with consequential benefits.
Raising preliminary objection, the Respondents argued that the petition was not maintainable, owing to the nature of their Institution and that the matter in issue was arising out of the services conditions that were governed by their own bylaws, which did not have any statutory force. Referring to St. Mary's Education Society case, the Respondents asserted that a writ petition against a private unaided educational institution is not maintainable, inasmuch as the service conditions of the Petitioner were not governed or controlled by any statutory provisions. Therefore, it was submitted that the petition deserved to be dismissed.
Per contra, the Petitioner submitted that the petition was maintainable by pointing out the observations of the Supreme Court in St. Mary's Education Society case. She pointed out para 68(d) of the judgment wherein it was held that a non-teaching staff of a private unaided institution, is only an agency created by it, and the term "employment" between a school and non-teaching staff cannot be brought within the purview of discharge of public duties. However, the Petitioner argued, the aforesaid observation was not with respect to the teaching staff.
Examining the submissions of parties and documents on record, the Court found merit in the objection raised by the Respondents. The Court opined that para 68 of the judgment in St. Mary's Education Society case, when read in totality, does not come to rescue of the Petitioner-
The Apex Court in para 68(d) of the judgment discussed the cases pertaining to non-teaching staff of an educational institution and has discussed the scope of interference. However, so far as sub-paras (a), (b), (c) and (e) of para 68 of the judgment are concerned, if the case of the petitioner is scrutinized in the light of the aforesaid sub-paras of para 68, it would reveal that the petitioner herein, is assailing the order of termination which has been issued in view of the bylaws of the society, which have been brought on record as Annexure-P/2. The bylaws, undisputedly, have no statutory force, nor issuance the order of termination, can be brought within the ambit of "an act in discharge of public duty".
With the aforesaid observations, the Court held that issuance of the impugned order had no nexus with discharge of public duty or that there was any of violation of any statutory provisions/rules. Thus, the Court concluded that the organisation concerned being a private unaided minority educational institution, the writ petition against the Respondent/Society was not maintainable. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.
Mr. K.C. Ghildiyal (Sr. Advocate) with Mr. S.K. Mishra for the Petitioner
Mr. Arjun Singh for the Respondents
Case Title: SMT.PRAMILAL TIWARI versus SATNA DIOCESAN SOCIETY AND ORS.
Case citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 220