Labour Law; Pragati Mahila Samaj Vs. Arun [Supreme Court of India, 19-07-2016]

Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (Conditions of Service) Regulation Act, 1977 –  Appointment of respondent No.1 as a part-time Lecturer – Nature of appointment coupled with the legality and correctness of the termination order – two appointment orders – appointed afresh second time – post of Lecturer was advertised as a part-time post – Held, appointment of the respondent No. 1, whether first or second, since inception remained a “temporary appointment as part-time lecturer” for a fixed period and did not result in “permanent appointment” on the post of Lecturer. It also did not create any right in favour of respondent No. 1 so as to enable him to claim regularization in service.

Appointment


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

[J. CHELAMESWAR] AND [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] JJ.

July 19, 2016

CIVIL APPEAL No. 6498 OF 2016

(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No. 30834/2014)

Pragati Mahila Samaj & Anr. …….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Arun & Ors. ……Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal is filed against the final judgment and order dated 01.08.2014 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay Bench at Nagpur in Writ Petition No. 2374 of 1999 whereby the High Court allowed the writ petition filed by respondent No.1 herein and set aside the order dated 05.08.1998 passed by the College Tribunal, Nagpur University, Nagpur in Appeal No. N-10 of 1998 and quashed the termination order dated 31.03.1998 issued by appellant No.1 herein by which the services of the respondent No. 1 had been terminated. The High Court further directed the concerned authorities to reinstate the respondent No.1 on the post of Lecturer but without payment of any back wages to him.

3. Facts of the case lie in a narrow compass. They, however, need mention in brief to appreciate the short controversy involved in the appeal. The facts are taken from the SLP.

4. Pragati Mahila Mahavidyalaya (appellant No.2 herein) is a girls college at Bhandara, Maharashtra. It is run by appellant No. 1, which is a registered trust/society at Bhandara. The appellant No. 2 published an advertisement on 23.06.1996 inviting application for the posts of Lecturers. The respondent No.1 was selected and was accordingly given appointment for the post of Lecturer in Geography as part-time Lecturer vide appointment order dated 20.07.1996. The appointment was temporary. It was for a fixed period from 01.08.1996 to 30.04.1997. It came to an end by efflux of time. In the Academic Session 1997-1998, another advertisement was issued and vide appointment order dated 21.07.1997, respondent No. 1 was appointed as part-time Lecturer in Geography on temporary basis upto 30.04.1998. On 21.03.1998, the Nagpur University (respondent No.2 herein) granted approval to the appointment of respondent No.1 as a part-time Lecturer.

5. According to the respondent No.1, he was appointed as full-time Lecturer. The respondent No.1 also made a complaint to the Grievance Committee of the University to this effect. However, vide order dated 31.03.1998 (Ann. 5), the services of respondent No.1 were terminated w.e.f. 30.04.1998.

6. Challenging the order of termination, respondent No.1 filed an appeal being Appeal No. N-10 of 1998 before the University and College Tribunal, Nagpur (in short “the Tribunal”) under Section 59 of the Maharashtra University Act, 1994. By order dated 05.08.1998, the Tribunal dismissed the appeal and upheld the termination order. It was held that the respondent No.1 was not appointed on a regular basis but his appointment was only on temporary/ad-hoc basis and it was for a specified term as a part-time Lecturer.

7. The respondent No.1, felt aggrieved, filed a writ petition being Writ Petition No. 2374 of 1999 before the High Court praying for setting aside of the order of Tribunal dated 05.08.1998 passed in Appeal No. N-10 of 1998. The High Court vide order dated 16.12.2008 partly allowed the writ petition and set aside the order of Tribunal dated 05.08.1998 and in consequence also set aside the termination order dated 31.03.1998. The High Court further directed the Management to reinstate the respondent No.1 in services but without payment of any back wages to the respondent No.1.

8. Challenging the said order, the College filed an appeal being L.P.A. No. 26 of 2009 before the Division Bench of the High Court.

9. By order dated 23.06.2009, the Division Bench disposed of the appeal and remanded the matter to the Single Judge of the High Court for deciding it afresh on merits.

10. After remand, the writ petition was restored to its original number, i.e. W.P. No. 2374 of 1999. It was, however, dismissed for want of prosecution by order dated 08.07.2010.

11. Thereafter an application being Civil Application No. 149 of 2010 was filed by respondent No.1 for restoration of the writ petition. It was also dismissed in default on 08.04.2011.

12. In 2012, the respondent No.1 filed another application for restoration of the writ petition. It is, however, not clear from the pleadings as to by which order, the Writ Petition was restored to its file. Be that as it may, vide impugned judgment dated 01.08.2014, the Single Judge allowed the writ petition, set aside the order dated 05.08.1998 passed by the Tribunal in Appeal No. N-10/1998 and quashed the termination order dated 31.03.1998. It was held that the advertisement (Ann.1) nowhere said that the appointment is temporary. It was also held that since the appointment was made on the basis of selection and interview and hence it has to be held as permanent. The direction was issued to reinstate the respondent No. 1 in service but without paying him any back wages for long intervening period.

13. Challenging the said judgment, the appellants have filed this appeal by way of special leave before this Court.

14. Heard Mr. A.K. Sanghi, learned senior counsel for the appellants and Mr. Nitin Bhardwaj, learned counsel for respondent No.1, Mr. Kishor Lambat, learned counsel for respondent No.2 and Ms. Shubhada K. Phattankar, learned counsel for respondent No.3. We have also perused the written submissions filed by the parties.

15. Mr. A.K. Sanghi, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the appellant, urged two points. In the first place, learned counsel contended that the Single Judge of the High Court erred in allowing the writ petition filed by respondent No.1 and thereby erred in setting aside the order of the Tribunal which had rightly upheld the termination order of respondent No.1.

16. In the second place, Mr. Sanghi pointed out that the appointment of respondent No.1 to the post of Lecturer was part-time in nature as is clear from the advertisement (Ann.1). Learned counsel further pointed out that the appointment being temporary as well as for a fixed period as is clear from the appointment orders (Annexures 2 & 3), the respondent No.1 had no right to claim the status of permanent employee in service for want of any material and seek the relief of regularization and reinstatement.

17. Learned counsel further submitted that since the appointment of respondent No.1 is regulated and controlled by the provisions of the