The Delhi HC dismissed an appeal that refused the deduction of one day’s salary of the appellant. The appellant is a professor at Delhi University. The university made the said deduction for contributing towards the PM CARES fund. The Court remarked, “Only a stone-hearted person would make such a challenge”.
Brief Facts of the Case
The petitioner is a professor at the University of Delhi and lives on campus. In March 2020, the Chairman, UGC, and Registrar of the University made appeals to contribute to support the cause against the COVID-19 pandemic. The last date for sending objections to the appeal was 2nd April 2020. The university thereafter deducted one day’s salary of Prof. Shreekant Gupta, the appellant. Aggrieved by this, he filed a writ petition at the Delhi HC. The petition, heard by a Single-Judge bench and dismissed. The present case is the Letters Patent Appeal preferred by the appellant against the order of the Single-Judge bench.
Arguments Before the Court
Counsel for the appellant argued that the University did not give its employees adequate notice of deduction of one day’s salary. Further, the University deducted one day’s salary of even those employees who had expressed their desire not to make a contribution. He emphasized that the University cannot deduct voluntary contributions without a person’s consent.
Counsel for the University pointed out that the petitioner did not file the writ petition in the prescribed format with necessary undertakings as a PIL. The petitioner asserted that he did not have any personal interest in the litigation.
The Court opined that the writ petition is not a Public Interest Litigation. The Court gave two reasons for this. Firstly, that the petitioner did not file it in the prescribed format of a PIL. Secondly, that the teachers and staff of DU aren’t that financially weak that they can’t approach the Court directly.
Subsequently, the Court took the issue of the professor who was not notified of the deductions by the University. The Court observed that the Chairman, UGC, as well as Registrar of the University, had made appeals in March 2020 to make voluntary contributions to the PM CARES fund. It also noted that the last date to raise any objections was 2nd April 2020.
The Court then observed that we now live in the ‘internet age’. It is difficult to believe that the appellant did not know about the appeals even when he lived inside the University campus.
The issues of notice and consent are disputed questions of fact. The Court said that it cannot adjudicate disputed questions of fact in a writ petition. It further added that the deduction of one day’s salary of the appellant cannot be “contrary to the public interest or harsh or inequitable”. The Court also stated that it is made to ask itself, wouldn’t a “stone-hearted person” challenge such a decision?
The Court dismissed the appeal with the liberty to the appellant to file a suit for recovery.
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