Delhi High Court has held that persons appointed as 'instructors' cannot be treated as 'teachers', for the purposes of superannuation, in the Delhi University.
The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sanjeev Narula has noted that since it's the government which has to meet the budget requirements for enhancing the age of superannuation, the court will consider the word 'teacher' as per the meaning prescribed by the government itself, and not the generally understood meaning or the meaning provided in the Delhi University Act.
The order has come in a Letters Patent Appeal filed by the appellants against the order of the Single Judge dated 26/03/2019 wherein the plea seeking same recognition as given to the teachers, was rejected.
Challenging that order, the appellants had relied upon section 2(g) of the Delhi University Act, 1922, which defines the term 'teacher' as:
'Teachers‟ include Professors, Readers, Lecturers and other persons imparting instructions in the University or in any College or Hall'.
Therefore, it was argued that the meaning of the expression "teacher", defined in Section 2(g) of the Delhi University Act, be adopted while construing the communications issued by the Government conveying its policy decision to enhance the age of superannuation of teachers.
The appellants, who was hired as 'instructors', wanted to avail the benefits of retirement age of teachers which was raised from 62 to 65 years on account of the policy decision taken by the Government of India in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Further, the appellants also relied upon the communication of University Grants Commission dated 15/02/2019, which stated that the post of Instructors in Stenography & Typewriting be considered under other academic staff since they carry out the teaching assignments and other academic duties.
Central Government, on the other hand, argued that its decision to raise the retirement age does not relate to all "teachers", as generically understood. Thus, "Instructors" in Stenography
cannot claim the benefit of enhanced age of superannuation, though, generically understood in the context of the Delhi University Act, they may
Resplendent Government also placed reliance on a communication dated 19/04/2007 sent by Ministry of HRD to UGC, wherein it was clarified that the enhancement of superannuation was applicable only to the teachers in centrally- funded institutions in higher and technical education who are actually engaged in teaching classes/courses/programmes of study in such institutions.
Another communication of the Ministry of HRD, dated 31/12/2008, was highlighted wherein it was informed to the UGC that when it comes to revision of pay scales of teachers, the term 'teacher' shall stipulate only three designations in respect of teachers in universities and colleges, namely, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors.
The court perused the above-mentioned communications and schemes to hold that the enhancement in the age of superannuation was granted in respect of teachers who undertake
class-room teaching in subjects in which the university grants under-graduate and post-graduate degrees.
Therefore, the expression "teacher" used by the Central Government in its aforesaid communications in respect of whom the age of superannuation has been raised to 65 years,
cannot be understood as a "teacher", as defined in the Delhi University Act or generally understood.
In light of these observations, the court refused to interfere with the order passed by the Single Judge and dismissed the appeal.
Click here to download the Judgment