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J.S. Khanna and ors. Vs. University of Delhi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 21 of 1976
Judge
Reported inILR1980Delhi1404; 1981(1)SLJ358(Delhi)
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Delhi University Act, 1922
AppellantJ.S. Khanna and ors.
RespondentUniversity of Delhi and ors.
Advocates: P.P. Rao,; A.K. Ganguly,; K. Deb,;
Excerpt:
constitution of india - article 226--scope--delhi university act, 1922 clause (1) ordinances xii & xi--'university appointed teachers', 'college appointed teachers'--ordinance xviii8(1), university statutory autonomous body as opposed to affiliated colleges private bodies.; in the instant case, 400 petitioners are selection grade teachers of the various constituent and affiliated colleges of the university of delhi. before 1948, university appointed teachers had been in three grades, namely, professors, readers and teachers. in affiliated and constituent colleges there were two categories of teachers, namely principals and lecturers. in the year 1948, selection grade for lecturers was introduced in the colleges of the university. qualifications and procedure for appointment of these.....h.l. anand, j.(1) by this petition under article 226 of the constitution of india, 400 selection grade lecturers of various constituent and affiliated colleges of the university of delhi seek twofold relief of retrospectivity of the revised scales of pay for readers of the university, made applicable to them, and voiding the purported abolition of the selection grade. the university of delhi, the university grants commission and the union of india are respondents, 1, 2 and 3 respectively.(2) the university of delhi is a statutory authority, created by the delhi university act, 1922, for short, the act, and is one of the central universities mentioned in entry 63 of list-1 in the vii schedule to the constitution. it functions under the act, the statutes framed under sections 28 and 29 of.....
Judgment:

H.L. Anand, J.

(1) By this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 400 selection grade lecturers of various constituent and affiliated colleges of the University of Delhi seek twofold relief of retrospectivity of the revised scales of pay for readers of the University, made applicable to them, and voiding the purported abolition of the selection grade. The University of Delhi, the University Grants Commission and the Union of India are respondents, 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

(2) The University of Delhi is a statutory authority, created by the Delhi University Act, 1922, for short, the Act, and is one of the Central Universities mentioned in Entry 63 of List-1 in the Vii Schedule to the Constitution. It functions under the Act, the statutes framed under Sections 28 and 29 of the Act, and the Ordinances made under Sections 30 and 31 of the Act and the Regulations made under Section 32 thereof. Section 2(a) of the Act defines the expression ' college' as an institution maintained or admitted to its privillages by the University Sad includes affiliated college or a constituent college. 'Affiliated college' is an institution recognised by the University in accordance with the provisions of the Act and statutes, while the 'Constituent college' is an institution recognised as such by the Executive Council of the University in accordance with the provisions of the Act and statutes. Section 2(g) of the Act defines the expression 'teachers' as including professors, readers, lecturers and other persons imparting instructions in the University or in any college or hall. The expression 'teachers of the University' is defined by Section 2(h) of the Act as meaning persons appointed or recognised by the University for the purpose of imparting instructions in the University or in any college. Chapter Iv of the Ordinances deals with teaching staff. Ordinance Xi in this Chapter deals with 'University appointed teachers', while Ordinance Xii deals with the 'College appointed teachers'. According to Ordinance Xi ( 1), teachers appointed by the University shall be in three 'grades, i.e., professors, readers and lecturers' and shall be paid salaries on such scales as the Executive Council of the University may determine. The corresponding provision for scales of pay of college appointed teachers is Ordinance XII(1), in terms of which a whole time teacher is entitled to be paid 'in the scales prescribed by the University for the various categories of its teachers'. Ordinance xviii, which appears in Chapter Vii, dealing with the colleges and halls, inter-alia, provides in clause (8)(1) that 'payment of salaries to teachers of colleges shall be in accordance with scales approved by the Government of India'. While, the University functions as an autonomous statutory body, its funding is the responsibility of the Central Government. The University Grants Commission, which was set up under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, for short, the Act of 1956, pursuant to entry No. 66 in List-1 of the Vii Schedule of the Constitution of India, was charged with the duty of promotion and coordination of University education and determination and maintenance of standards of education in the various universities and its functions include determining from time to time the financial requirement of the various universities, and to give grants to them from its own funds or to procure it from the Central Government. The Commission is essentially an advisory body and, inter alia, advises the Central Government with regard to the maintenatace of educational standards, as also the Universities established by law in India.

(3) The 'University appointed teachers' in the University of Delhi have throughout been in three grades, namely professors, readers and lecturers. Until the year 1948, there were two categories of teachers in the affiliated and constituent colleges of Delhi, namely, the principal and the lecturers. The principal had supervisory functions in addition to the teaching obligations. In the year 1948, the selection grade for the lecturers was introduced in the college of the University and the scale of pay prescribed by the University for the grade was the same as the scale of pay prescribed by the University for the University appointed teachers belonging to the grade of readers. This was an unusual feature of the colleges in Delhi and was, inter alia, intended to recruit and retain teachers of excellence in colleges. The University has since maintained a virtual parity in the scales of pay of the readers of the University and the senior grade lecturers in colleges. Qualifications and procedure for appointment of selection grade lecturers in colleges was prescribed by resolutions of the Executive Council of the University. Selection grade lecturers were in the beginning appointed on a selective basis out of the lecturers of the colleges by a Selection Committee duly constituted for the purpose and were appointed on the approval of the University. In course of time, specified posts of lecturers were designated as selection grade posts which were filled either by 'promotion' of lecturers of colleges or by direct recruitment and some of the petitioners are direct recruits to the selection grade. The qualifications for appointment to the selection grade were higher than for appointment io the posts of ordinary lecturers in colleges. The selection grade lecturers of colleges have, in course of time, been accorded recognition as constituting a recruiting ground for appointment in the University as well as in the other universities as, professors, paper setters, examiners as also for teaching assignments in the University itself. That some of the selection grade teachers of yesteryears have distinguished themselves as eminent educationists reinforces the purpose of the introduction of this intermediate grade between lecturers and principals of colleges. The three categories of Principals, selection grade lecturers and lecturers of colleges, have, over the years been, by and large, considered parallel, if not equivalent, to the three grades of the University appointed teachers i.e., professors, readers and the lecturers.

(4) In 1948, when the selection grade was introduced for the lecturers in colleges, the then prevalent scale of pay for readers of the University, i.e. Rs. 500 800, was prescribed for it. In 1961, the scale of pay was revised to Rs. 700 1100, again both for the readers of the University and the selection grade lecturers of colleges. The further revision of scales in 1966, Rs. 700 1200, followed the same pattern. A departure was, however, sought to be made in the matter of parity between the senior grade lecturers and the readers in the revision of scales of pay of teachers of the university in 1974 and was the first ever occasion, when they were sought to be differently treated. By its letter of November 11, 1974, Annexure-D, the University Grants Commission informed the University that on the recommendation of the Commission, Government had agreed to revise the scales of pay of the teachers of Delhi University. The scales of pay of readers were revised to Rs. 1200 1900. The scales of pay of lecturers and selection grade lecturers of colleges were raised to a common scale of Rs. 700 1600. It was further pointed out that consequent upon the revision 'there will be no selection grade for lecturers in these colleges'. The revised scales were given retrospective effect from January 1, 1973. Separate orders, continued the letter, will be issued with regard to fixation of salary of the existing lecturers in the selection grade in the colleges in the revised scale of Rs. 700 1600. The effect of this letter was three-fold. In the first instance, it sought to de-link the grade of readers in the University from the category of selection grade lecturers in the colleges in the matter of scales of pay. In the second instance, it purported to treat the lecturers, appointed by the University, the lecturers and selection grade lecturers of the colleges, at par in the matter of scale of pay. Thirdly, selection grade for lecturers in colleges was sought to be abolished as a consequence of the revision. By his letter of November 20, 1974, Annexure-E, the then Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University acknowledged the various communications of the Commission and while maintaining that it was for the University to prescribe the scales of pay for the various categories of its teachers, pointed out that the implementation of recommendations of the Commission and the decision of the Government would involve appropriate decisions and amendments by the concerned authorities of the University. This was followed by the University's communication of March 25, 1975, Annexure-C, to the principals of colleges informing them that the University had adopted the revised scales of pay as agreed to by the Government, on the recommendation of the Commission. This communication, by and large, relayed to the principals, the contents of the communication of the Commission with the important difference that any reference to the abolition of selection grade for lecturers of colleges was omitted. The principals of colleges were, however, required to obtain options from the senior grade lecturers of colleges with regard to revised scales. It appears that the senior grade lecturers of colleges were dissatisfied because of the failure of Government to approve the grant to them of the revised scales of pay prescribed for the readers of the University and on account of the purported abolition of the selection grade. The present petition was filed on January 7, 1976 and the Bench admitting the petition directed that the petitioners may fill up the option forms and accept their interim fixation of pay in the revised scale, subject to the final decision of the petition. During the pendency of the petition, the petitioners apparently continued their effort for the revised scales of pay of renders of the University being made applicable to them with retrospective effect from January 1, 1973 and for the continuance of the selection grade. The University, as well as, the Commission were apparently sympathetic to the point of view of the selection grade lecturers. The Government eventually relented and by its letter of July 7, 1979, Annexure-R. 1, approved the proposal of the Commission to give to the selection grade lecturers the revised scales prescribed for the readers, i.e., Rs. 1200 1900, but maintaining that the revised scales were personal to the lecturers, who were actually placed in selection grade in colleges, 'prior to the issue of the order of Commission to abolish the selection grade, and that the decision had been arrived at on a purely ad-hoc basis to relieve the hardship caused to the lecturers in question' and did not in any way 'constitute a commitment to revive the selection grade', which stood abolished. The revised scale was however, made applicable with prospective effect from the date of the communication. Further efforts of the selection grade lecturers, the University and the Commission to get the application of the revised scales with retrospective effect from January 1, 1973, however, failed and by its letter of June 30, 1980, Annexure-W.3, the Central Government turned down the recommendation of the Commission to give retrospective effect on the ground that such a decision 'would require a modification in the original scheme, which has already ceased to operate from April 1, 1979'.

(5) Are the selection grade lecturers of colleges entitled as of right to the scales of pay prescribed for the readers of the University, by virtue of the provisions and/or the scheme of the Act, the statutes or the Ordinances of the University, is the first question that the petitioners pose. The petitioners justify an affirmative answer primarily on the ground that on its true construction, ordinance Xii (1) must be read as entitling them to the scales, as may be determined by the Executive Council of the University for the University appointed teachers. This contention is, however, based on a misconstruction of the expression 'its teachers' in clause (1) of Ordinance XII. Ordinance Xi deals with 'University appointed teachers.' Clause 1 of Ordinance Xi reads thus : 'Teachers appointed by the University shall be in the following grades, that is to say, Professors, Readers and Lecturers in so far as they take part in the teaching of the University and shall, except in the case of re-employed teachers, be paid salaries on such scales as the Executive Council may, from time to time determine'. Ordinance Xii deals with 'college appointed teachers' and clause I of it provides thus : 'Every whole-time teacher shall be engaged by a College as a member of its staff on salaries in the scales prescribed by the University for the various categories of its teachers.' Ordinance xviii.8 (1) further provides, with reference to college appointed teachers, that their salaries 'shall be in accordance with scales approved by the Government of India'. The provision of Ordinance xviii. 8 (1) is further made a part of the condition for grants to affiliated colleges. It is difficult to ignore that while the University is an autonomous statutory body entitled to regulate its affairs in accordance with the Act, Statutes and Ordinances, the affiliated colleges are private bodies, whether Societies, Trust or otherwise, which do not have any statutory genesis and it is for historical reasons that some of their affairs, including the teaching standard, examinations, the scales of pay, conditions of services of its staff, are regulated by the Ordinances of the University and otherwise by the various authorities of the University in accordance with the provisions of the Act, Statutes and Ordinances. The University appointed teachers are divided into three grades, i.e. Professors, Readers and Lecturers and have to be paid salaries on scales as may be determined to the Executive Council. The college appointed teachers do not necessarily conform to these three grades and may belong to different categories, such as lecturers and principals. While, professors, renders and lecturers -are essentially teachers, one category of teachers in colleges primarily discharge supervisory functions, such as principals of colleges. The teachers of colleges, thereforee, constitute different categories. The University appointed teachers are primarily concerned with post-graduate teaching, while the college appointed teachers are primarily concerned with under-graduate studies. The qualifications for appointment of University appointed teachers are not necessarily the same as for the different categories of teachers of colleges. While, there may be good reasons to treat the different categories of teachers of colleges as being equivalent to different grades of University appointed teachers, it is difficult to hold on the interpretation of the Ordinances or on any principle that the college appointed teachers are entitled as of right to scales of pay applicable to the University appointed teachers of a corresponding grade. The principle of 'same pay for same work' has not been recognised in India as an enforceable right and being only a part of the directive principles of the State policy is only an ideal to be achieved. It does not form the basis of any enforceable right. The expression 'its teachers' in clause 1 of Ordinance Xii does not appear to qualify the Univers

(6) Have the senior grade lecturers been discriminated against in that the revised scales of pay applicable to the Readers of the University have been made applicable to them with effect from July 7, 1979 and not January 1, 1973 The constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws and equality before the law embodies a charter of equality between equals and enjoins that the equals shall not he treated in an un-equal manner as also that the un-equals would not be treated equally. It, however, permits reasonable classification in which there is a nexus between the classification and the object sought to be achieved. As in the matter of principle, so in the matter of basic factual hypothesis, there is no dispute. Teachers of the University may be either University appointed or college appointed. In the case of University appointed teachers the privity of contract is between the University and the teachers, while in the case of college appointed teachers there is a privity of contract between the teachers and the colleges concerned. The qualification for appointment, the scales of pay and the conditions of service, of University appointed teachers and college appointed teacher? are; however, regulated by the University Ordinances even though the scales of pay of University teachers is fixed by the University itself while the scales of pay of the college appointed teachers is prescribed by the University and are subject to the approval of the Central Government. In actual practice by virtue of the financial obligation of the Central Government to provide the funds the scales of pay of the University appointed teachers are in a sense also subject tothe approval of the Central Government. The University is an autonomous statutory body but the source of its funding obviously implies a distant control, which at times becomes too manifest. The autonomy of a University and the consequent Independence of the academic community from any executive influence may in actual practice, to an extent, be compromised because of the source from which it gets the funds. That the University appointed teachers are primarily concerned with post graduate teaching and the college appointed teachers primarily with under graduate teaching was also not disputed. That the qualifications for appointment to the post of Readers and that of senior grade lecturers is not identical. even though senior grade lecturers have been in the past appointed professors in some of the Universities and have quite frequently been called upon to undertake teaching assignments in the University itself was not disputed. It is also not in dispute that the revision of scales of pay of all categories of University appointed and college appointed teachers following an upward trend in the cost of living index were given retrospective effect from January 1, 1973. It is also well recognised that retrospectivity in revision of scales is ordinarily given either because the consideration of the question of raise is not initiated immediately when the cost of living index is raised or becairsc the process of consideration involves time and any prospective raise partly frustrates its objects and thereforee, tends to cause hardship. If the revision of scales of pay of the various categories of teachers of me University was given retrospective effect from January 1, 1973 for the obvious reason of linking the raise with the period from which the raise would be justified, having regard to the increase in the cost of living, could there be any justification for the application of revised scale to the selection grade lecturers prospectively thereby' denying them the benefit for a period of more than six years. I am unable to find any justification. Counsel for the respondents were unable to offer any worth-while reason. This is understandable. The University and the University Grants Commission have themselves admittedly made strong recommendations to the Central Government that the revised scales of pay applicable to Readers be given to the selection grade lecturers with retrospective effect from which the revised grade were made applicable to all other categories. The Central Government did not agree. On behalf of the Central Government an attempt was made to justify the differential treatment on the ground that the decision to revise the scale of pay of the selection grade lecturers was taken by the Central Government only in July 1979 and that any retrospective effect would have required a modification in the original scheme which ceased to operate from April 1, 1979. It is difficult to accept this reason. If the revised scale could be given to the senior grade lecturers prospectively even though the benefit had been earlier denied to them, how could the retrospectivity to the decision have made any difference. On behalf of the Commission it was pointed out that retrospectivity would involve problem of ways and means as the financial allocations for the relevant period had already been exhausted. I have never heard of such an argument. If retrospectivity involves additional financial burden, as it obviously does, further allocations would have to be sought in accordance with law to meet the additional burden. The only possible reason was that the Government was prevaricating on the question and some years elapsed before it could be pursuaded by the University and the Commission to treat the senior grade lecturers at par with the Readers in the matters of scales of pay, consistent with the practice obtaining in that behalf over the years, but the financial implications of a retrospective operation were perhaps not acceptable to it. It is, however, ignored that implicit in the Government decision to equate two categories was an admission that the equal benefit ought to have been given to the senior grade lecturers from the date it was given to the Readers and if it had been so given and justice had not been denied to the senior grade lecturers all these years they would have been richer than even after payment of the benefit retrospectively.

(7) It is of course not for this Court to determine as to whether an employee is entitled to a revision in a scale of pay and as to the date from which any revision should be made effective. It is entirely for the Government and, subject to the approval of the Government, for the University to decide. It is equally beyond the scope of the present proceedings for this Court to embark on any fine discussion as to the correctness or moral or economic justification of a Government decision with regard to a revision of scales of pay. Any decision of the Government, however, with regard to scales of pay, as indeed, any other executive action or decision must, however, conform to the constitutional, statutory and policy constraints, as also satisfy the requirement of being just and fair. The differential treatment meted our No the senior grade lecturers constitutes an act of hostile discrimination. Government had earlier approved the revised scales of pay of different categories of University appointed teachers and college appointed teachers retrospectively with effect from January 1. 1973. While different categories of grades of these teachers were given different revised scales no category other than senior grade lecturers were denied a revision. The revision of scale of pay of the senior grade lecturers was impliedly denied because the grades of lecturers and senior grade lecturers were merged and given the common grade. But, in any event, all revisions were made retrospectively with effect from January 1, 1973. Retrospectively was a common feature of all revisions because of the relationship between the date of operation of the revised scales and the reason for the revision. When Government subsequently relented and accepted, even though reluctantly, the unanimous recommendation of the University and the Commission to revise the scales of pay of senior grade lecturers so as to bring them at par with the Readers of the University it recognised that the senior grade lecturers as such were entitled to a revision in addition to whatever revision had been given to them in common with the lecturers of the colleges. If all revisions were to have effect retrospectively from January 1, 1973, the date of the operation of revision of scales of senior grade lecturers could not be different. To date had nothing to do with the category or the grade but with the reason for the increase. The reason was not different in different cases. It was the same. All revisions were intended to relieve hardship consequent on increase in the cost of living. In the matter, thereforee of the date from which the revision should have affect all categories of teachers of the University, whether University appointed or college appointed, were similarly situated and there is no rational reason for a different date for the revision of the revised scales in the case of senior grade lecturers. In any event, Government's decision to extend the scales of pay applicable to Readers to the Senior grade lecturers was a reiteration of the established principle of parity between Readers and the senior grade lecturers in the matter of scales of pay. If the senior grade lecturers are, thereforee, to be treated at par with the Readers in the matter of scales of pay a differential treatment would be possible if the effective date has a relation to the revision in one category but not the other and there is admittedly none in the present case. The Readers and the senior grade lecturers were, thereforee, similarly situated even though constituting different categories and in different employment. What made them similarly situated is the Government's own confirmation that they were similarly situated in the matter of scales of Pay. The effective date could not, thereforee, be different in the two sets of cases. Lastly, all categories of college appointed teachers had been given the benefit of revised scales with retrospective effect from a particular date. The senior grade lecturers were treated as forming parr of the grade of lecturers. Treating the senior grade lecturers and lecturers in the same manner in the matter of revision of scales would perhaps have been objectionable on the ground that they were not similarly situated in the matter of scales of pay, having been differently treated in the past. This anomaly was recognised and sought to be rectified by Government decision when the readers scale was given to the selection grade teachers. This was tantamount to giving revised scale of pay to the senior grade teachers along with the revision of scales of different categories of school teachers including the lecturers and the principals. If the revised scales applicable to lecturers and the principals were to have effect from January 1, 1973. how could the revised scales of pay of senior grade lecturers have effect from a different date. Here again the effective date has no relation. to a particular category, but to an event which has a common impact on all categories. All the categories of teachers in colleges were, for all purposes, similarly situated being in the same employment. While different scales of pay to these categories may be justified, they were nevertheless similarly situated in the matter of the date from which the revision should take effect. The differential treatment of the senior grade lecturers in that the revised scales were made prospective and not retrospective from January 1, 1973 is, thereforee, arbitrary and as such liable to be struck down as being discriminatory.

(8) A faint suggestion was made on behalf of the Union that but for the Government decisions to give to the senior grade lecturers the revised scales applicable to the Readers of the University, the senior grade lecturers would not have been entitled to the revision and would have been confined to the revised scales applicable to them in common with the other lecturers of colleges but it cannot be denied that the obligation to make the revision retrospective with effect from January 1, 1973 logically follows from the Government's own decision to treat senior grade lecturers at par with the Readers of the University in the matter of scales. No amount of hedging or use of euphemistic phrases in the Government order granting this parity could deviate from the irresistible conclusion that whatever the revised scale of pay applicable to the senior grade lecturers there has to be uniformity among all categories as to the date from which the revisions take effect. Different effective dates are not permissible unless there is a rational relationship between the classification and the objects sought to be achieved. There is none in the present case. No doubt. Government could have withheld the benefit of parity to the senior grade lecturers but, to my mind, the Government decision would then have suffered from a worse vice of total discrimination of failure to give revision of scales to the senior grade lecturers and of treating them at par with the lecturers, but I express no opinion. Government having itself relented and for good reason, it cannot escape the logical consequence of its decision.

(9) The benefit of retrospectivity was sought to be denied to the senior grade lecturers on the ground that the revised scales of pay to which they were entitled in common with the lecturers of of collage gave them the retrospective benefit of revision and having got the benefit of revised scale of pay and with retrospectivity from the date from which the scales of pay of other categories were revised, the Government decision to extend the Readers' scale to them was in the nature of additional ad-hoc benefit which need not be treated at par with the revision. There is a fallacy in this argument. If the senior grade lecturers had been given the revision of scales to which they were entitled why was this additional ad-hoc benefit given to them at all. There can be only one answer. The revision in common with the lecturers was considered unreasonable because they had all along been equated with Readers and. thereforee entitled to a higher scale than the lecturers and the present revisions were the first ever occasion for the departure. The importance of the senior grade lecturers and the role it has played in improving the teaching standard in colleges and the University was recognised and the injustice done to them in the denial of the scale of Readers was sought to be undone. Where is, thereforee, the question of additional ad-hoc benefit or otherwise. It was a recognition of a distinction between them and the ordinary lecturers. If that be so, it was hardly necessary to deny them the benefit of retrospectivity. That would be a half way house which would necessarily lead to heart-burning.

(10) The further justification to deny retrospective benefit on the ground that the senior grade had already been abolished, even though the scale has been reserved for the present incumbent, has no merit. If the revision in the scale of pay to various categories was intended to relieve hardship consequent, on increase in cost of living, the mere abolition of the grade would not affect the need to relieve hardship in respect of the period for which revision has been given to the other categories. If the scale has been revised for the present incumbents and it has been otherwise abolished it had no relevance to denial of retrospectivity to the revision. Retrospectivity has a relation to the past and has nothing to do with the future. The abolition of the senior grade, subject to the preservation of the revised scale for the benefit of the present incumbents, has neither any relevance to nor any impact on the question of retrospectivity of the benefit.

(11) That leaves for consideration the question as to the validity of Government decision to abolish the senior grade of lecturcrs, even while preserving the pay of the senior grade lecturers, who have been placed in the selection grade up to a particular date. There can be little doubt that even in service under the State there is an undoubted power to abolish a post or a grade. There is hardly any scope for a. civil servant to challenge a bonafide abolition of a post or grade either as being in excess of powers or as tentamount to reduction in rank. The abolition of selection grade was sought to be challenged on the ground that in the scheme of the Act, Statutes and Ordinances, no power had been reserved for Government to abolish posts or grades or even prescribed scales and that the only power of Government was with regard to approval of scales that may be prescribed by the University for the college appointed teachers. Government, it was urged, did not even have the power of approval in the case of scales prescribed by the University for the University appointed teachers. There can be little doubt that the scheme of the Ordinances do not leave any role for Government to play in the matter of fixation of scales of pay or abolition of posts and grades of a University appointed teachers because the University does not have to obtain the approval of Government. It is equally true that in the matter of scales of pay of college appointed teachers it is entirely for the University to prescribe the scales as indeed to regulate the fixation or abolition of posts and grades and the only requirement is that the scales that. may be prescribed by the University for the various teachers is subject to the approval of the Government. Government and the Commission have, however, to provide finances for the University and while the Commission has an advisory role to play in discharge of its functions under the Act of 1956, there is no power in the Government to abolish any grade or post inthe University or in the colleges affiliated to it. In actual practice, the Government and the Commission could certainly influence the University in these matters because if the University does not fall in line with any policy that the Government and the Commission may recommend grants and funds could be withheld by the Commission or Government since scales, posts and grades have obvious financial implications and the University has no financial source of its own. While such a question may raise certain larger controversies as to the extent of autonomy of the University and the areas of executive interference in the functioning of the University and its likely impact on the independence of the academic community, which is after all next in importance at least, if not as important as the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the Press. It is, however, unnecessary to pursue this matter in the present case, because even though reluctantly the University is reconciled to the abolition of the grade, even though it does not appear to be happy about it. Ones the University is as good as bound by the decision of the Central Government and the Commission, in the matter of abolition of a grade or a post because of the economic lever that they can operate, it has hardly any practical implication if a formal decision has to be taken by the University and not the Government with regard to the actual abolition of a grade or a post.

(12) There was some controversy between the parties as to whether the appropriate authority of the University had taken a formal decision in accordance with the Act. Statutes and the Ordinances to abolish the senior grade in accordance with the Government decision and had notified the selection grade lecturers of the abolition. suggestion was also made that even if there was power to abolish the senior grade and the same had been exercised by the appropriate authority, the power had been improperly exercised in thai the persons affected had not been heard. There is no substance in any of these contentions. The categorical decision of the Government with regard to the abolition of the grade had been taken note of by tile University and had been conveyed to the principals of the colleges for onward transmission to the senior grade lecturers concerned. These facts are not in dispute. The requisition for options constitute sufficient notification to the senior grade lecturers of the decision to abolish the grade. The colleges as also the University have been acting on the basis that there has been the abolition and the challenge to the abolition was also on the assumption that an adverse decision had already been taken. The Ordinances were not amended when the selection grade was introduced apparently because the Ordinances do not make a provision for such a grade and amendment of the ordinances may perhaps, thereforee, be unnecessary to give effect to the decision, even though some consequential amendments in the Ordinances may be necessary. The resolution No. 324 of the Executive Council dated August 11, 1979, Resolution No. 604 of the Executive Council of March 23. 1975 and Resolution No. 61 of the Executive Council of May 24, 1980 appear to put the matter beyond doubt. The abolition has no civil consequences for the present incumbents and was not stigmatic in nature. There was, thereforee, no right to be heard.

(13) Be that as it may, the petitioners can have little grievance because the benefit of the revised scale has been preserved. There is no reduction in rank because it is not that they have been reduced to a lower rank, but the grade itself has been abolished. The abolition is common to all of them. True, the selection grade lecturers have so far been considered as such for appointment as professors and given other assignments in the Universities such as paper setters, and were a recruiting ground for the few posts of Vice Principals of colleges but, until alternative arrangements have been made either by creating the grade of Readers in colleges or otherwise, the present incumbents of the selection grade would presumably continue to have that benefit. The challenge to the abolition of the grade must, thereforee, fail.

(14) Mr. P. P. Rao, who appeared for the petitioners, and argued with this usual clarity and thoroughness, invoked a number of principles in aid of his submissions and cited large number of precedents to reinforce his contentions. The principles are, however, too well settled and the only question was as to the validity of the Government Decisions in the context of the settled criteria. Any further reference to these principles and precedents would, thereforee, be unnecessary.

(15) The petition succeeds in part. Rule nisi is made absolute. The communications of the Government dated July 7, 1979 and June 13, 1980, in so far as they deny to the petitioners the benefit of retrospective operation of the revised scales of pay, are quashed. The revised scales of the present incumbents of the selection grade would be effective from January 1, 1973 and they would have the consequential benefit. The petition fails in so far as it challenges the abolition of the selection grade. Petitioners would have their costs from the Union. Counsel fee is fixed at Rs. 1000.


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