The Punjab government on Wednesday opposed the demand of a section of Panjab University faculty of increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 on the grounds that it would affect the job prospects of other qualified youth.
Deputy director, director public instructions (colleges) office, Punjab, Harleen Bedi in an affidavit submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court said, “In this context, it is relevant to mention that age of superannuation has been retained at 58 years in Punjab Civil Services Rules. Taking all these factors into account, the government of Punjab has opposed the move to enhance the age of retirement of the university teaching staff.”
Countering the contention of university teaching staff about the University Grant Commission’s (UGC’s) recommendations on increasing the retirement age, the state argued that there could not be automatic application of the recommendation or voluntary regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) without any conscious decision by the state.
The resolutions of the senate and the syndicate did not bind the state government and it had to take an independent decision, the court was told in respect of decisions of these two bodies favouring the increase in retirement age.
Punjab has argued that the varsity was partly funded by it.
“The territorial jurisdiction of the university also extends to Chandigarh. Therefore, the consultation and concurrence of the state government is necessary and essential before any decision is taken pertaining to the university,” the government argued. The state has submitted that various judgments had settled the issue of status of university and law was well crystallised to the effect that Panjab University had been established neither under any central Act nor any state Act.
“To fix the retirement age is a policy decision to be decided after taking into consideration all the relevant socioeconomic and other factors. It is in the domain of the policy makers,” the government emphasised. The reply was submitted on an amended petition where a section of PU faculty members have challenged the December 2015 communication of the central government, whereby the court was told that PU was not a centrally-funded institution.
The teachers have argued that there were no fixed criteria for declaring and accepting a university as centrally-funded.
Hence, the PU should be declared as a centrally-funded varsity. The hearing has been adjourned for March 10.
The centre is yet to submit its response on the amended petition. The litigation on the issue started in 2014 following which the retirement orders of 30-odd faculty members were stayed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.