Tuesday, Sep 16, 2003
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By A. Subramani
Justice K. Govindarajan, setting aside the suspension of two lecturers of the Voorhees College at Vellore under the ESMA, said though Section 7, before amendment, had provisions for disciplinary proceedings against all employees, the one amended by a subsequent ordinance did not provide for such action. "...the new Section 7 is made applicable only to the government servants and not to other servants".
I. Elangovan and Suresh Manohar were among the 43 staff members suspended by the college management with effect from July 3. Though the suspension was revoked on July 18, they were informed later that as per the direction of the Director of Collegiate Education they could not be permitted to rejoin duty as they had been arrested and first information reports pending against them.
The lecturers had to move the High Court as, being aided college faculty members, they could not approach the State Administrative Tribunal. They sought to quash the July 26 order of the Director and to ask the respondents to reinstate them in service with all consequential benefits.
Allowing the petitions, Mr. Justice Govindarajan pointed out that as per Section 19(3) of the Tamil Nadu Private Colleges (Regulations) Act, a teacher could be suspended only by the college committee. "First of all, the order of the Director preventing the petitioners from attending the college cannot be sustained without any valid order of suspension or dismissal or removal. There is no provision under the Act and the Rules framed thereunder to prevent teachers discharging their duties without passing appropriate orders as contemplated under the Act".
Stating that only on the basis of the order of the Directorate did the chairman of the college council pass the impugned order, the judge said, "no specific power is given to the Government to prevent a teacher from discharging his duties, if he is entitled otherwise".
"The Government is not a master or employer of teaching staff as it is having only controlling power under the Act. The statute has given specific power to the college committee to take disciplinary proceedings, which include other incidental proceedings against the teachers. The Government cannot insist on the college committee passing a particular order preventing a teacher from attending the college", Mr. Justice Govindarajan observed.
Rejecting the argument that since the college received aid from the Government it was duty-bound to enforce government directions, Mr. Justice Govindarajan said the petitioners were public servants and not government servants. Their rights and duties were regulated by the respective Act and the Rules.
"In view of the fact that their names find a place in the list of arrested persons or persons against whom an FIR was filed, the college committee alone is empowered to take disciplinary proceedings under Section 14(1)(c) of the Act. Hence, the order passed by the Directorate of Collegiate Education and the Voorhees College cannot be sustained and they are set aside".
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