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Delhi HC Upholds The Midnight Decision Of Delhi University To Remove The Officiating Principal Of One Of Its Colleges [Read Order]

Karan Tripathi
8 July 2020 12:07 PM GMT
Delhi HC Upholds The Midnight Decision Of Delhi University To Remove The Officiating Principal Of One Of Its Colleges [Read Order]
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Delhi High Court has refused to set aside the decision of the Delhi University to remove the Officer on Special Duty-Principal (OSD) of one of its colleges - Delhi College of Arts & Commerce (DCAC).

The Single Bench of Justice Jyoti Singh, however, has directed the University to pay the Petitioner his full salary for the period between the order imposing maintenance of status quo to passing of the judgement, without any deductions.

The court noted that the decision of the University to remove the Petitioner from his officiating position in order to repatriate him to his parent College, is neither illegal nor arbitrary and is within the four corners of the law on the subject.

The present petition was filed by Dr Rajiv Chopra seeking the quashing of the letter dated 24/05/20 by the Delhi University whereby the Petitioner was removed from the position of Officer on Special Duty-Principal (OSD) and was repatriated to his parent College.

The Petitioner argued the malafide nature of the said letter by pointing out that the same was sent to him at midnight and that there was no official handing over of charge before his replacement took over the position.

The Petitioner further submitted that he feels humiliated by the manner in which he has been repatriated as well as the way he has been prevented from even entering the office, after dedicatedly serving for 6 years.

While highlighting that the Petitioner was removed from the post of Officiating Principal without appointing a Regular Principal for the Respondent College, the Petitioner submitted that the University did not even take Vice Chancellor's approval before taking that decision.

In his rejoinder, the Petitioner went on to argue that he has a legal and fundamental right to continue on the post and the decision to remove him could only be taken by the Governing Body, subject to final approval by the Vice-Chancellor. It is contended that there has been no such decision by the Governing Body after 2014, when the last extension was given to the Petitioner.

Delhi University, on the other hand, submitted that the appointment of the Petitioner was temporary in nature as OSDs are only appointed for six months. Despite this fact, the Petitioner continued on the said position for six years.

The University further argued that no employee in law can claim a vested right on an officiating appointment and there is no illegality in repatriating the Petitioner, back to his parent College.

While observing that the Petitioner was aware of the fact that his appointment as OSD was temporary in nature, the court noted that the grant of extensions is the prerogative of the University under Clause 7(3)(c) of Ordinance XVIII.

The court further observed that the Petitioner is not a Government Servant or holder of a Civil Post and on this basis alone not entitled to the protection of Article 311(2) of the Constitution. Moreover, repatriation of the Petitioner to his parent College doesn't amount to the punitive measures of reduction of rank in order to attract the procedure laid down in the said Article.

The court was also satisfied by the affidavit submitted by the University which indicated that the Vice-Chancellor had given his prior approval to the decision taken by the University on May 24.

The court, however, showed displeasure in the manner in which the Petitioner was repatriated by observing that:

'The letter informing him of the repatriation was served upon him at midnight, on a holiday and without permitting him to hand over the Charge, he was asked to join his Parent College. Petitioner's Counsel had narrated the saga of how the Petitioner was forcefully prevented from entering the office and the lock was broken.'

The court further said:

'An employee may or may not have a right to continue on a post, but certainly cannot be sent out so unceremoniously. Teachers/Professors are the pillars of our society. They play myriad roles in lives of many in shaping knowledge, values and careers, leading to the path of success, as a guiding light. This kind of treatment is least expected in a College, a Temple of learning and education.'

The Petitioner in this case was represented by Mr Anand Nandan. Advocate Pritish Sabharwal appeared for Respondent 2. 

Case Title: Dr Rajiv Chopra v. University of Delhi

[Read Order]

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