Aided-college teachers in Chandigarh can work beyond 60 for now
HC order comes on a clutch of appeals filed by some teachers against a single-judge order passed in December last year
A Punjab and Haryana high court division bench has directed that the teachers at Chandigarh’s private-aided colleges will be allowed to work beyond 60 as an interim measure.
The interim directions were issued by the bench of justice MS Ramachandra Rao and justice Sukhvinder Kaur, while hearing a clutch of appeals filed by some teachers against a single-judge order.
On December 23, an HC single-judge bench had dismissed a plea from a college teacher, observing that the University Grants Commission (UGC) order about retirement of college faculty at 65 years was not applicable to teachers working in private-aided colleges in the city. The teachers are retiring at 60 as of now.
The single-judge bench order came on the plea by Gurmej Singh, an associate professor with Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, a private but government-aided college, who had approached the high court challenging the administration’s December 2022 order, which says aided-college faculty will retire at the age fixed by Punjab government, which is 60 and not 65.
The petitioner argued that on March 29, 2022, a notification by the Centre brought employees of Chandigarh under the service conditions of Centre. The notification covered employees of technical universities, institutions governed by AICTE, higher educational university and institutions governed by UGC. By virtue of this notification, the retirement age of faculty governed by UGC rules had been increased from 60 to 65 years. Hence, aided-college faculty were also covered and should be allowed to continue to work till 65.
After the single-judge bench dismissed the plea, Gurmej, along with some other teachers, filed an appeal against the order. The May 24 interim order came on these petitions.
The court observed that it was unfortunate that despite sufficient time having been granted to the UT and the Centre to file replies, they have chosen not to do so, though they are fully aware that at the end of every month some of the teachers, who are parties, will be retiring.
The court further said there was a condition in the appointment letters that Panjab University regulations will govern their conditions of service. Then how could the UT administration say that Punjab government civil service rules will apply to them.
There is no satisfactory answer for this inconsistent stand of the UT administration, it added. It also took note of the argument that even as PU syndicate had recommended in 2011 that varsity teachers’ retirement age be increased to 65, the Centre had not acted so far.
The court further noted that the issue of increasing retirement age of PU teachers was pending in high court and they were being allowed to work till the age of 65 as an interim measure.
“When PU teachers are allowed to continue up to 65 years, we fail to see prima facie why teachers of private-aided colleges, affiliated to the same university to which according to the respondents the same regulations apply, should not get the same benefit,” it said, ordering that till further orders, teachers party to these cases who have not yet crossed 60 years of age be allowed to continue till the age of 65. The case will now be taken up on August 31.