The Madras High Court on Monday rapped the Anna University for giving "scant regard" to the UGC and AICTE guidelines and functioning at the strength of temporary teaching staff for nearly ten years.
Taking note of inadequate faculty student ratio maintained by the University, a Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh remarked,
"It is surprising that students who come out of this University are faring well despite the non availability of sufficient teaching faculty. Either the students are extremely bright or the available faculty is performing an extraordinary task by providing with excellent teaching skills. Whatever may be the reason, the fact remains that the University will have to take immediate steps on a war footing to fill up the vacancies through regular appointments."
It reminded the University that appointment on contract basis should not exceed 10% of the total number of faculty positions in a College/University. Further, emoluments paid to such contract teachers should not be less than the monthly gross salary of a regularly appointed Assistant Professor.
The observation was made while disposing of a batch of writ petitions against disengagement of about 80 'Teaching Fellows' by the University. A prayer was made to regularize their services in the Post of Assistant Professor from the date of their appointment.
The Petitioners had submitted that they were appointed through a competitive process and underwent a proper selection process by a duly Constituted Selection Committee. Further, they had put in service of six years to ten years but and they had been "unceremoniously disengaged" by the University.
After considering the facts of the case, the Court was of the opinion that the results produced by the Petitioners show that they had contributed to the development of the students and also the University and its Constituted Colleges. Further that they had acquired a right towards their past services both under the UGC and AICTE Regulations.
The Court carefully considered the qualifications of each and every Petitioner and found that they satisfy the minimum qualification for direct recruitment as an Assistant professor. It noted,
"The nature of duties performed by them and the various other functions performed by them such as being nominated as Instructors to certify the Institutes for affiliation, publishing research papers etc., clearly shows that they have been performing the functions of a regularly appointed Assistant Professor."
It has therefore directed the Anna University to engage the Petitioners as 'Temporary Assistant Professors' with effect from December 1, 2020, until regular recruitment is completed and vacant posts are filled up.
The Court however refused to regularize their services as Assistant Professors as wide advertisement was not given by the University while selecting the Petitioners and engaging them on a contractual basis.
The Court noted that in the present case the advertisement calling for application was notified only in the Official site of Anna University and it was more in the nature of an internal communication. It observed,
"Any public employment which is undertaken without giving wide publicity through Employment Exchange and Newspapers will suffer from illegality… Therefore, in the present case it cannot be said that the contractual employment of the Petitioners was carried out after giving such a wide publicity."
"When it comes to the question of Regularization of service as Assistant Professor which is claimed by the Petitioners, this Court is not inclined to grant this relief. Where the temporary or ad hoc appointment is continued for a long time, the Court presumes that there is need and warrant for a regular post and accordingly considers regularization. But, there is no rule of thumb in such matters."
The Court has also directed the Anna University to offer the same pay to the Petitioners that is made to the regular Assistant Professors. It held,
"Both the UGC Regulations as well as the AICTE Regulations makes it very clear that even in case of ad hoc or temporary service, the emoluments paid to such contract teachers should not be less than the monthly gross salary of a regularly appointed Assistant Professor. The Anna University gave scant regard to these Regulations and continued with the practice of consolidated pay to the Petitioners which was nowhere near the actual pay made to a regularly appointed Assistant Professor. It is again reiterated that the Petitioners even though were called as Teaching Fellows, were actually performing the duties of an Assistant Professor with all qualifications. Therefore, they should have been paid the emoluments on par with the monthly gross salary of a regularly appointed Assistant Professor."
Reliance was placed on PM Malathi v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2012) 3 MLJ 669.
Case Title: TR Kannan & Ors. v. Anna University & Anr.