The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has asked a Gondia-based college management to conduct a fresh probe against three lecturers before terminating their services.
"It would be a travesty of justice if these employees, who have rendered continuous service for 13 to 14 years should not be granted protection," a division bench of Justices Vasanti Naik and Arun Chaudhari observed before disposing of their petitions yesterday.
The court asked Wainganga Bahuudeshiya Vikas Sanstha, which runs Rajiv Gandhi Mahavidyalaya in Sadak Arjuni in neighbouring Gondia district, to conduct a fresh inquiry against the lecturers Rajkumar Bhagat, Anil Gaikwad, and Diwakar Kamble Ņ and put them under suspension instead of terminating them from service till the probe is completed.
The judges also set aside the orders of University and College Tribunal, Nagpur, terminating the services of the lecturers while granting liberty to the management to conduct an inquiry against them and complete it within a year.
The college management was also told to pay the lecturers subsistence allowance during the suspension period.
The three lecturers were charge-sheeted by the management for alleged acts of misconduct and departmental inquiry was instituted. Subsequently, they were terminated from service.
They filed appeals before the tribunal which held that university's permission was not required for terminating them.
It also ruled that they could not be confirmed in the service since they did not possess NET/SET (national eligibility test/ state eligibility test for lecturership) qualifications, as made mandatory by the UGC.
Both sides then moved the Nagpur bench filing five petitions against each other.
A single-judge bench then ruled in the lecturers' favour stating that the university's prior permission was required before terminating the services of services.
Both sides then filed petitions in the High Court.
It would be a contradiction of sorts if the services of teachers are allowed to be terminated without prior permission of the university, as required by Statute 53 (3).
It would also lead to an anomalous situation wherein on the one hand the state government deems it fit to protect the services of teachers till their retirement despite lack of NET/SET, and on the other hand the management is allowed to terminate their services without university's prior permission," the judges observed.
Citing a GR of October 18, 2001, the judges said it was not possible to apply the NET/SET norms mandated by UGC in an abrupt manner in the state and to expel the lecturers who do not possess NET/SET qualification.