68 petitions against Panjab University, seeking to raise the age of superannuation of teachers, dismissed

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding upon 68 writ petitions filed by various Professors and Assistant Professors of the Panjab University and its affiliated colleges, all seeking the writ of Mandamus directing the Central Government and the Panjab University to raise the age of superannuation from service to 65 years, the Bench of Amol Rattan Singh, J., dismissed the petitions stating that the matter of raising the age of superannuation is solely a matter of executive policy.

In the instant petitions it was contended that the respondent University is sui generis and is Centrally governed, controlled and funded and therefore a Central University, and relied upon Section 2 (b) of the Panjab University Act, 1947 and Section 72 of the Punjab Re-Organization Act, 1966, Section 2(d) of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, Article 248 of the Constitution read with Entry 97 in List I of the Seventh Schedule, and Article 254 of the Constitution, read with Clause 2.1.0 of the UGC Regulations 2010. It was contended that since the University is being funded by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development through the UGC, it would also be governed by Clause 2.1.0, per se, and the age of superannuation of its teachers should thus be raised to 65 years. In rebuttal the respondents contended that Panjab University was established by the Panjab University Act, 1947, and at that time, the ‘area of jurisdiction’ of the University covered the undivided State of Punjab. In 1966 upon the reorganization of the State of Punjab University was declared to be an Inter-State body corporate, as per Section 72 (3) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Upon perusing the contentions, the Court declined to accept the petitioners’ contention to that the plain meaning of the words contained in Clause 2.1.0 of the UGC Regulations must be given effect without any additions or subtractions whatsoever. The Court further perused the letter of the Director (U.II) MHRD, which clarified that the respondent University is not a Central University but an Inter State body; even the documents relied by the petitioners failed to prove the same. It was further added that an increased quantum of funding by the Central Government also does not render the respondent University to be a Central University. The Court thus concluded that it did not find the decision of refusing to raise the age of superannuation as arbitrary. [Bhura Singh Ghuman v. Panjab University2016 SCC OnLine P&H 6385, decided on 16.08.2016]

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