After a prolonged legal battle, two post-retirement slots to park a retired high court judge as chairman of the Punjab educational tribunal and a well-connected bureaucrat as its member will be up for grabs very shortly.
The Parkash Singh Badal government has now decided that the tenure of the office of chairman and members of the tribunal “shall be three years” or till 65 years or whichever is earlier, top government sources told Hindustan Times.
In this regard, the cabinet had approved the memorandum at its November 26 meeting. The government has sent the proposed draft of the ordinance to the legal remembrancer and it is likely to be promulgated very shortly.
Interestingly, the state government had in February 2008 amended Section 7-A of the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service) Act, 1974, and did not specify any upper age limit for holding the office of the chairman and members of the tribunal, even as the provision of the upper age limit existed earlier in Section 7-A.
“This amendment neither incorporated any upper age limit nor specified the tenure of chairman and members,” a senior government functionary said.
Upper age limit
This amendment having no upper age limit has helped justice RL Anand — a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court to continue as chairman of the tribunal even though he is 73 years old.
Justice Anand had retired from the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2003 at the age of 62 and then served for five years as a member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission. In January 2009, he was appointed chairman of the tribunal in question, when he was 68.
Government sources stated that on December 5, the state government also submitted in the high court that it had decided to amend the 1974 Act by specifying the fixed tenure or an upper age limit to hold the office of the chairman and members of the educational tribunal.
‘No fixed term’
Early this year, a public interest litigation was filed in the high court, highlighting that justice Anand (retd) was holding the educational tribunal chairman’s post for more than four years because there was no fixed term or maximum age limit for the post.
Apart from justice Anand, the latest move of the government, ostensibly taken after the issue reached the high court, will also affect retired Uttar Pradesh-cadre IAS officer Surjit Kaur, who is a member of this tribunal.
When contacted, justice Anand said: “Notionally, I am continuing as chairman of the tribunal. Now I understand that the government has fixed the tenure... though the state government is yet to issue formal orders in this connection.”
The chairman of the tribunal is paid salary as drawn at the time of retirement (minus pension) from the high court as judge, dearness allowance (DA) as admissible to a sitting judge of the high court, staff car and free accommodation as per the entitlement of a sitting high court judge.
The high-powered educational tribunal deals with appeals pertaining to the DPI (director, public instruction), colleges, and disputes — such as promotion or pay scales — of employees of aided and unaided educational institutes with their managements.