19 Feb 2023 11:46 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a batch of petitions filed by lecturers, principals and associate professors working in affiliated colleges, aided and unaided by the state government, for enhancement of the age of superannuation from present 60 years to 65 years.A single judge bench of Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav said the contention of petitioners that even those working in...
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed a batch of petitions filed by lecturers, principals and associate professors working in affiliated colleges, aided and unaided by the state government, for enhancement of the age of superannuation from present 60 years to 65 years.
A single judge bench of Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav said the contention of petitioners that even those working in Affiliated Colleges are to be treated on par with the Teaching Community drawing UGC Scales cannot be accepted, as the Teaching Community of the Universities drawing UGC Pay Scales form a distinct class of employees vis-à-vis other Teaching Community staff.
“The method of recruitment in each of the categories is different and distinct as also the conditions of service and the Teachers are governed by applicable legislations and there is no identical and uniform process of recruitment or conditions of service. This by itself would justify treating each of the categories as distinct and forming a separate Class which is categorised on the basis of differentia which is to be treated as intelligible in light of the distinctiveness pointed out above,” said the court.
The court said the different age of superannuation for these distinct categories by itself cannot be assailed as being discriminatory.
The court gave the ruling while dismissing a batch of petitions questioning the government order dated 15.10.2009, by which the state enhanced the age of superannuation of the Teaching Community of Universities drawing UGC Scales from 60 Years to 62 Years. It was contended that “Revised UGC Pay Scale was extended to the Teaching Staff of even Government Aided Colleges but there was discrimination only as regards the age of superannuation.”
“The appointment of Teaching Faculty both in the Universities and Government Colleges on one hand and Aided Colleges on the other hand was by the Government and the Service Conditions, Recruitment, Pay Scales, Increment and Academic Performance indicators for placement, are all governed by the UGC Guidelines which are uniform. Thus the disparity in age of superannuation is arbitrary,” the petitioner contended.
It was also submitted that all the Educational Institutions registered under Section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956 ought to be treated similarly. “The State of Karnataka having adopted the UGC Scheme, the UGC Regulations must be mandatorily implemented without any modification,” it was said.
The State government opposed the plea saying that it has accepted only that part of UGC recommendation with regard to the revision of UGC Pay Scales to the Teaching Community working in Government and Private Aided Colleges but the UGC recommendations insofar as superannuation has not been accepted.
Further, it was said though UGC Pay Scales are applicable to the entirety of Teaching Community, other Service Conditions like superannuation/retirement age, probationary period, pensionary benefits and the like are governed by the State Government Rules.
It was also submitted that since the State Government has made a provision for appointment of Guest Lecturers to bear the extra workload, enhancing the age of superannuation is not required insofar as the Teaching Community of State Government/Universities are concerned.
Reliance was placed on the judgment of the High Court in the case of State of Karnataka and Others v. Dr.R.Halesha and Others (Dr.R.Halesha) decided on 09.11.2011, wherein the court held that the revision of Pay Scales prescribed by the UGC is mandatory, the enhancement of the age of superannuation was intended to be optional and only recommendatory and it is beyond the powers of the Court to issue a writ for its observance.
The bench on going through the records and after analysing the judgments of the Apex court and other high courts relied by the petitioners held that it is for the State to take an appropriate decision as regards acceptance of the age of superannuation as provided for under the UGC Scheme.
As regards the other contention of the petitioners that they are entitled for enhancement in age of superannuation to 65 years, the petitioners mainly relied on the communication of the Ministry of Human Resources Development to UGC, in the context of revision of pay dated 02.11.2017 of teachers and equivalent cadres.
In the communication it was said that if the scheme is sought to be extended to the Universities, Colleges and other Higher Educational Institutions coming under the purview of State Legislature, the payment of central assistance for implementing the Scheme is subject to the condition that the entire Scheme along with all the conditions laid down by UGC by way of Regulations and other guidelines shall be implemented by the State Government and Universities and Colleges as a Composite Scheme without any modification, except in regard to the date of implementation.
“This communication of the Central Government dated 02.11.2017 is as per Clause-18 subject to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance," the bench.
Referring to an earlier direction of Central Government through MHRD letter dated 14.08.2012 addressed to all the Educational Secretaries, wherein it said the condition of enhancement of age of superannuation would be de-linked from the condition of payment of central share of 80% arrears to the State, the court said, “Such direction of the Government is to be construed to be a direction under Section 20 of the UGC Act and binding upon UGC.”
“No doubt, the communication of Central Government through MHRD letter dated 02.11.2017 does not refer to the letter of MHRD dated 14.08.2012, but observes that the existing provisions on superannuation and re-employment of Teachers shall continue. If that were to be so, the earlier communication of MHRD dated 14.08.2012 also remains intact and in operation,” the bench observed.
The court said UGC Circular to the Vice Chancellors dated 30.01.2018 as well as UGC's communication dated 31.01.2018 addressed to Education Secretaries of all the States cannot be construed as altering the earlier Government Regulations.
Noting that there is a difference between conditions of service which is within the sole domain of the Government under Article 309 of the Constitution of India which is regulated by appropriate Legislation on one hand and the requirement of adherence of Minimum Standards in terms of Section 26(g) of the UGC Act, which falls within the domain of UGC and would be subject to the directions of the Central Government under Section 20 of the UGC Act, the bench said:
“The superannuation is a condition of service and would fall within the ambit of Article 309 of the Constitution of India till statutory provision is made by the appropriate Legislature. Such Rules would have statutory force.”
Following which it held, “Wherever the age of superannuation is contained in either (a) KCSR insofar as employees of the Government, (b) Provisions of Karnataka Education Act, 1983 insofar as the employees of Aided and Unaided Institutions, (c) Acts of the University, Statutes of the University, (d) Rules/Byelaws of Private Educational Institutions which are not Aided, but affiliated to the University where such Bye laws are framed under the authority of the Universities Act/statutes, the same would prevail. Accordingly, the above would hold the field insofar as superannuation is concerned.”
It added: “The aspect of prescribing qualifications falls within the domain of maintenance of standards which has nothing to do with the aspect of superannuation that falls within Article 309 of Constitution of India and operates in a separate sphere.”
Thus it dismissed the petitions. However, it directed that insofar as the petitioners who have continued to work by virtue of interim orders granted by this Court, their continuance till date is to be treated as continuance on re-employment basis in terms of the applicable Rules, University Statutes and Government Orders as are applicable and are entitled to emoluments on such re-employment terms and will not be entitled to remuneration paid to the regular employees.
Further, the continuance till date by virtue of interim orders cannot be treated to be a dispute relating to re-employment requiring passing of directions. After having attained the age of superannuation, it is an aspect of reemployment by the employer subject to fulfilment of conditions as are stipulated.
Finally it clarified that there cannot be automatic extension of tenure and the extension is on the basis of a conscious decision of the employer in light of the applicable Rules.
Case Title: Patil Malligemadu Chandrashekhar & others And State of Karnataka & Others
Case No: W.P. NO.8888/2020
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 70
Appearance: Advocate Ramananda A D,
AAG Dhyan Chinnappa a/w AGA Nagashree M C for R1, R2
Advocate Showri H R for R3.
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment