Teachers after superannuation may continue in service for entire academic year

University Statute on Superannuation:

The appellants relied on Statute No. 16.24 of the University, applicable to them,contending that they were entitled to continue beyond the last date of the month in which each of them attained the age of superannuation, till the “30th of June following”in terms of that provision. That statute reads as follows:

“16.24 (1) The age of superannuation of a teacher of the University, whether governed by the new scale of pay or not shall be sixty-five years.(2) No extension in service beyond the age of superannuation shall be granted to any teacher after the date of commencement of these statutes.provided that a teacher whose date of superannuation does not fall on June 30, shall continue on service till the end of the academic session, that is June 30, following and will be treated as on re-employment from the date immediately following his superannuation till June, 30, following.(Provided further that such physically and mentally fit teachers shall be reappointed for a further period of two years, after June, 30, following the date of their superannuation as were imprisoned for taking part in freedom struggle of 1942 and are getting freedom fighters pension) Provided also that the teachers who were re-appointed in accordance with the second proviso as it existed prior to the commencement to the Kumaun University (Twenty-third amendment) First Statute, 1988 and a period ofone year has not elapsed after the expiry of the period of their reemployment, may be considered for re-appointment for a further period of one year.”

Teachers to continue till June 30th

This court is of the opinion that on a plain interpretation of Statute No. 16.24,including the proviso in question, it is clearly apparent that firstly each teacher attains the age of superannuation on completing 65 years {Statute No. 16.24 (1)}. Secondly, no teacher who attains the age of superannuation has a right or entitlement to re-employment; in fact, the opening expression “No teacher” appears to rule out re-employment of superannuated teachers {Statute No. 16.24 (2)}. Thirdly, and importantly the proviso {to Statute 16.24 (2)} carves out an exception to the main provision, inasmuch as it provides that a teacher whose “date of superannuation does not fall on June 30, shall continue in service till the end of the academic session, that is June 30, following and will be treated as on re-employment from the date immediately following his superannuation till June, 30, following.”

The view of the Uttarakhand High Court, as also the Allahabad High Court (now settled by the full bench decision) consistently have been that teachers superannuating are to be treated as re-employed or allowed to continue, in the larger interest of the pupils, has prevailed. If the view that found acceptance with the impugned judgment were to prevail, there would be avoidable disruption in teaching; the likely delay in filling vacancies caused mid-session can not but be to the detriment of the students. That apart, this court is also of the opinion that if the state or the university wished to depart from the prevailing understanding,appropriate measures could have been taken, putting all the concerned parties to notice,through amendments. In the absence of any such move, the departure from the prevailing understanding through a discordant judgment, as the impugned judgment is,injects uncertainty. Long ago, this court had underlined this aspect while ruling that longstanding or established status quo brought about by judgments interpreting local or state laws, should not be lightly departed from, even by this Court, in Raj Narain Pandey v Sant Prasad Tewari & Ors14in the following words:

“In the matter of the interpretation of a local statute, the view taken by the High Court over a number of years should normally be adhered to and not disturbed. A different view would not only introduce an element of uncertainty and confusion, it would also have the effect of unsettling transactions which might have been entered into on the faith of those decisions. The doctrine of stare decisis can be aptly invoked in such a situation. As observed by Lord Evershed M.R. in the case of Brownsea Haven Properties v. Poole Corpn.(1958 [Ch] 574), there is well-established authority for the view that a decision of long standing on the basis of which many persons will in the course of time have arranged their affairs should not lightly be disturbed by a superior court not strictly bound itself by the decision.”

1973 (2) SCR 835

This court is consequently of the opinion that the impugned judgment is in error.The very object and intent of the proviso to Statute No.16.24 is to avoid the disruption caused by discontinuity of service of a teaching staff employee or official mid-session.

Read Full Judgment, here:

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