The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed Panjab University to ‘re-employ’ teachers who were ordered to be retired with immediate effect by a single-judge bench of justice Amol Rattan Singh on August 16. This bench had dimsmissed petitions of 45-odd PU faculty members seeking enhancement of retirement age from 60 to 65 years.
Taking up the appeal against the single judge bench, the HC division bench of justice Surya Kant and justice Sudip Ahluwalia also asked the university to let these faculty members retain their residential accommodation at the campus. The detailed order is awaited.
Monday’s direction came on the petitions of AS Ahluwalia and others who had challenged the single-judge order, stating that before the single-judge bench they had not sought a declaration from the central government to issue a formal order on the status of the university, but were seeking the benefits of retirement age. They also claimed that these would automatically flow to them, due to the ‘character’ of the centrally-funded institution of PU.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Gurminder Sing had argued that the funding pattern of PU was completely changed in 2011 and brought on a par with central universities.
Appearing for PU, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, supported the petitioners and questioned as to why central government had to consult Punjab on the this issue, whereas Punjab did not have any control over PU, being outside its jurisdiction.
The high court also took note of the submissions of assistant solicitor general, Chetan Mittal who said that the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966 recognised PU as inter-state body corporate and not the central university. The court asked him as to why was the amendment nor carried out by the Centre if that was the only hitch.
Later, the HC issued notice to the Centre, Punjab and Panjab University for September 13, with direction on re-employment.