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The Supreme Court today issued notice in a challenge to the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court which had quashed regulations concerning the hiring of teachers on a contractual basis by National Law University, Jodhpur (NLU Jodhpur).
The Vacation Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai also stayed the implementation of directions given by the High Court for quashing of Regulations 5 and 6 of the University Service Regulations, 2001 which dealt with the mode of hiring and termination of employees as well as their pay scale. The Court in its order stated,
“There will be stay of direction given in paragraph 63(I), (II) and (IV) of the impugned judgment. We, however, clarify that we have not stayed the proceedings before the learned Single Judge in respect of other aspects which are not subject matter of the impugned judgment.”
On May 28, a Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court comprising Justices PK Lohra and Arun Bhansali had quashed Regulations 5 and 6 of the University Service Regulations, 2001 as well as consequential Regulations 37 and 38 framed by the University. The High Court had expressed its disapproval of the“hire and fire” policies of NLU Jodhpur.
The plea before the Supreme Court states that the decision of the High Court will have an adverse effect on all the teaching and non-teaching staff of NLU Jodhpur. It was further argued that it will have a significant impact on the other NLUs, which have similar provisions for contract-based employment of staff. The petition submits,
“The impugned judgement imperils and adversely affects the employment of all teaching and non-teaching staff at the Petitioner University. Further, the impugned judgement would also have a significant adverse impact on other National Law Schools/Universities in different parts of the country, most of which have pari materia provisions for employment of teaching staff on fixed-term contract basis.”
It was also submitted in the petition moved by NLU Jodhpur that the basis for the High Court to strike down the said regulations was that they were inconsistent and contrary to the provisions of the Rajasthan Universities Teachers and Officers (Selection for Appointments) Act, 1974. However, the incorporation of the Act was deleted from the University’s statutes by way of an amendment.
“Section 3, 5 and 6 of the 1974 Act had no application to the Petitioner University after the amendment of its Statutes by Gazette Notification dated 27/08/2004. By way of the said amendment, the incorporation by reference of the 1974 Act was deleted from the Statutes of the Petitioner University.
The amendment of the Statutes on 27/08/2004 was a conscious decision to further the autonomy of the Petitioner University in matters of appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff. In this circumstance, treating the 1974 Act as a special Act would render the 2004 amendment of the Petitioner’s Statutes redundant and nugatory.”
The petition also adds that the University’s teachers are extended benefits like provident fund, gratuity, and pension. Fixed term contracts are provided after due consideration by a selection committee. It goes on to underline that appointment of teaching staff in fixed-term contracts is not prohibited under any law, nor is it violative of any provisions of Part III of the Constitution of India.
It is also contended by NLU Jodhpur that the judgment of the High Court is “extraneous to the cause of action.” It states that the original writ petition filed before the High Court was moved by those persons whose contracts were not renewed in light of the University discontinuing the BSc. LLB course. The High Court, however, struck down the regulations without deciding on the merits of the case that was before it, the petition states.
The University thus approached the Supreme Court to challenge the High Court’s decision, seeking a stay on the judgment as interim relief.
NLU Jodhpur was represented by Senior Counsel KV Vishwanathan, who was assisted by Advocates Anand Varma, Rajvendra Saraswat, Shwetank Singh, and Dhairya Madan.
Read the petition:
Read the Order: