In what could result in escalation of tension between Panjab University (PU) and its stakeholders, the university on Thursday told the Punjab and Haryana high court that it supported the university faculty members on enhancing the retirement age.
University counsel Anupam Gupta told the high court bench of justice Amol Rattan Singh that he had instructions from the PU to support the faculty members on the issue. “I have instructions (from vice-chancellor AK Grover) to support the faculty members on the retirement age,” Gupta told the high court bench.
The development is significant as recently the Union government had stated that as Punjab was not in favour of increasing the retirement age, it does not support it. Reeling under financial crunch, the PU is even struggling to pay salaries to its employees.
Vice-chancellor AK Grover recently blamed the confusion between the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) for delay in release of grants to the PU. The latest stand taken by the university may further escalate the tension not only with the Union government, but also with the Punjab government, which is opposing the move to enhance the retirement age as it has over 150 colleges affiliated to the PU.
Gupta said the basic argument whether the PU is centrally-funded had not been addressed by the MHRD. Earlier, the ratio of funding used to be 60:40 between the Centre and Punjab. Now, it is 90:10 and Punjab has put a cap on funding, Gupta argued. The argument also supports the stand of the faculty members that it was a centrally-funded university.
Punjab and the Union governments have opposed any move to increase the retirement age. Punjab says there was no intention to enhance the age of superannuation of Punjab government employees, including government college teachers. The MHRD also says considering the Punjab response, it does not support enhancement of teachers’ retirement age.
The high court has put the matter for further hearing on January 6. The stay orders with regard to the retirement age of the PU and private-affiliated colleges of the UT would continue till further orders.
However, the stay was vacated in the case of UT government college teachers as services of these teachers were governed by different rules than those of PU faculty members. The high court is hearing petitions wherein the retirement age of PU faculty members have been challenged. The retirement orders passed after July 2014 have been stayed by the high court from time to time — of 30-odd teachers of the PU.
The matter reached high court on the petitions of PU professors BS Ghumman and LK Bansal, who submitted that the PU had failed to implement the Union government’s composite scheme of 2008 enhancing the retirement age from 60 to 65 years, even as the varsity was funded by the central government to an extent of 92%.
They also argued that the PU had decided to adopt and implement the UGC regulations, 2010, vide a resolution dated June 29, 2010, and in December 2011, the PU amended the university regulation enhancing teachers’ superannuation age to 65 years. The amended regulations had been sent to the MHRD for approval. However, the approval is not required as the UGC regulations had been framed by the Union government and the centre had been insisting on its compliance, so a mere compliance report of implementation was required to be sent.