Bombay HC upholds termination of 54 professors’ posts from Pune’s College of Engineering
The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday upheld the termination of the post of 54 professors of the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP), on the ground of irregularities in their appointments. “There was complete hotchpotch in the selection process and the patent illegality adversely affected the entire process of appointment. It warrants to quashing of all such appointments,” said the division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre.
CoEP is a top-ranked government engineering college in state.
The bench dismissed separate petitions filed by 54 professors and the CoEP itself challenging the January 23, 2015 order by the Director of Technical Education (DTE), Mumbai that declared appointments of 54 professors – recruited between 2007 and 2011 – to be illegal and directed to cancel their appointments.
The institute and professors contended that CoEP is an autonomous institute and DTE declaring the appointments illegal and ordering their cancellation amounted to interference in the autonomy status.
The state, however, said a committee had found many irregularities in the appointment process such as issuing faulty advertisement, relaxing educational qualification and experience criteria for appointment on the teaching posts, and appointing unqualified candidates. Apart from non-compliance with reservation policy, in some cases age criteria was also found to have been relaxed.
The HC accepted arguments advanced by advocate LM Acharya, special counsel for the state government. The bench said the state’s insistence on adhering to norms prescribed by All India Council for Technical Education cannot be called interference in autonomy of the institution.
“The autonomy contemplated by the state would not confer a right to malfunction or to function de hors the norms prescribed by the AICTE or the statutes like the Maharashtra Universities Act 1994,” the bench said, while rejecting petitions filed by the engineering institute and the lecturers.
It also rejected their plea for continuation of interim relief, protecting services of the 54 lecturers for some period to enable them to approach the Supreme Court.
“There is sanctity and purity attached to a process whereby public posts are filled in. This is public employment and any departure and deviation, amounting to gross illegality and constitutional infirmity, therefore, cannot be condoned,” the bench said.
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