In a recent matter of Dr. Prashant Mehta V. NLUJ & Anr the division bench of Rajasthan High Court observed upon the need to remove contractual appointment amongst teachers as it creates insecurity and also affects the education system. The court in its decision stated that “nebulous and unsatisfactory conditions of service of the teaching community create a sense of insecurity which may ultimately result in making education set up ineffective and inefficient”. The above observation of court came in a writ petition filed by three contractual employees of National Law University, Jodhpur.
The current petition was filed by three professors of NLU, Jodhpur who were released by the university due to its decision to discontinue the B.Sc. L.L.B Course. The Petitioners in the matter have challenged the decision of the university to discontinue B.Sc. L.L.B course portraying it as an absolutely arbitrary. Alongside petitioner also challenged the vires of University Service Regulations (USR), 2001 saying they are contrary to the basic tenets of welfare state and violates Article 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution.
The HC bench while hearing the matter discussed various aspects of the regulations and made the following observations:-
- The Subordinate Legislation Did Not Conform To the Parent Statute i.e. the limit of the authority conferred has been exceeded by the enabling Act and therefore on the basis of which the impugned Service Regulations 5, 6 and amended/inserted Service Regulations 37 & 38 of employing teachers on contract basis for a tenure or on adhoc term, providing for termination of contract by giving one month's notice and non renewal/extension of contract of employment in certain contingencies, are manifestly arbitrary and unreasonable.
- The bench also pointed out that if the impugned Service Regulations are examined within the parameters of service jurisprudence by applying concept of a model employer vis-à-vis respondent-University being a wing of welfare State, then indisputably we are of the view that impugned Service Regulations are in clear negation of Articles 14, 16 & 21 of the Constitution.
- The court while rejecting the contention of the counsel for the university that the quality education can only be imparted thorough contractual teachers quoted examples of International Universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge etc and instances of Indian Universities like NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, NLU Delhi etc. to say that the Universities imparting quality Law education too are employing regular teaching faculties.
- The Court said that any person, who is deprived of his right to livelihood except according to just and fair procedure established by law, can challenge the deprivation as offending Article 21 of the Constitution. The Government, only because it has the power to appoint, does not become the master of the body and soul of the employee. University being a statutory body is not expected to employ teachers and other officials on contract/adhoc basis for years together, more particularly when the duties and functions discharged by them are of perennial nature.
It accordingly declared impugned Service Regulations 5 & 6 of the Regulations and amended Regulations 37 & 38 ultra vires and strucked them down.