Bombay HC strikes down UGC Regulation that restricted tenure of college principals
A bench of justice ZA Haq and justice Manish Pitale on Monday struck down Clause 5.1.6(d) of the UGC Regulations, holding it was “manifestly arbitrary.”Updated: Apr 28, 2020 11:16 IST
College principals can now continue to hold their posts till their retirement, as the Bombay High Court on Monday struck down a clause in University Grant Commission (UGC) Regulations, 2010 that converted their permanent posts into term posts.
A bench of justice ZA Haq and justice Manish Pitale on Monday struck down Clause 5.1.6(d) of the UGC Regulations, holding it was “manifestly arbitrary.”
UGC amended the Regulations in 2016 and introduced the clause which capped the term of college principals to five years. It is extendable by another term of five years, provided the incumbent successfully undergoes the selection process and an external peer review.
Twelve college principals from Vidarbha region had moved to High Court challenging validity of the clause. They argued that the clause arbitrarily curtailed the age of superannuation of college principal candidates and left them in lurch, as before introduction of the clause college principals continued to hold the posts till the age of superannuation and now because of this clause college principals will be without employment once they complete their tenure.
UGC responded to the petitions contending that the concept of term appointments and external peer review was well founded and it was based on an internationally accepted practice. UGC maintained that introduction of Clause 5.1.6(d) had become necessary so as to keep college principals on their toes in order to achieve minimum standards and also to ensure that the principal as a leader of college excelled both in terms of academics and administration.
The bench however refused to accept the justification. “It is difficult to accept the contentions raised on behalf of UGC that only by introduction of such curtailed tenure of appointment to the post of principal that the incumbents would be kept on their toes and that only by such method they would excel in the academic and administrative fields,” said the bench.
“If the Management finds a person appointed to the post of principal not performing and consequently having adverse effect on the college / institution, steps can certainly be taken against such a principal. But, by introducing the aforesaid Clause and virtually converting a permanent post into a tenure post, the action is rendered arbitrary and unsustainable.”
It added that when a person joins a particular service, the age of retirement is known and on the basis of experience and addition of qualifications, such a person expects his / her career graph to move in a particular direction.
Before introduction of Clause 5.1.6(d), the bench said, a person appointed as principal was entitled to continue until he or she attained the age of superannuation. But, upon the introduction of the clause, span of service of principal stood curtailed and the incumbent was to be discontinued from service much before the age of retirement. “This is a clear assault on the legitimate expectation of petitioners and other similarly situated persons and, therefore, it can certainly be held to be unreasonable restriction on such persons and their expectation of career progression,” it added.