Delhi High Court ordered Sri Aurobindo College to pay fine to Manisha Priyadarshini

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An appeal was filed against the Judgment of 20.08.2019 in which the learned Single Judge rejected the appellant prayers.

The Honorable Court is issued a Writ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, quashing the Impugned letter of termination dated 29.05.2019 issued by the Aurobindo College.

The Honorable Court also issued a Writ directing the Aurobindo College to reinstate the Petitioner to the post of Assistant Professor on Ad Hoc basis from 20.03.2019.

Brief Facts

The facts, as appropriate for disposing of the present appeal are that since 7.08.2019 the appellant has served as an ad-hoc assistant professor in various colleges associated with the University of Delhi and finally in the Sri Aurobindo College (Evening). The standard procedure followed by the college and other colleges associated with the university, according to the appellant was to renew the contractual appointment of ad-hoc professors every 120 days, by enforcing a notional or artificial break in service of one working day. The last renewal of the petitioner’s contract was done on 19.11.2018 from 19.11.2018 to 18.03.2019.

Arguments by the Petitioner

The petitioner claims to be the Senior-most Ad-hoc Assistant Professor in the Department of English in the Respondent College. The petitioner also states that since she was expecting her first child on 22.02.2019. She had requested maternity leave with all other qualifying benefits under the Maternity Act 1961 and had specifically sought leave from 14.01.2019 till 24.05.2019. Particularly, because of the complications of pregnancy. Since no response was provided to this, she again requested on 16.01.2019, seeking permission to proceed on maternity leave from 21.01.2019 onwards.

The petitioner submits that on 14.05.2019 she expressed her desire to rejoin the college from 24.05.2019 onwards, which they denied via a letter dated 16.05.2019. However, on 24.05.2019, when she reported to the college for joining her duties and repeated the same request on 27.05.2019, in a mala fide and wholly illegal manner the college informed her on 29.05.2019, that as her tenure had ended on 18.03.2019, she was no longer on the rolls of the college and therefore, there was no question of her joining back on duty or being assigned any work. Aggrieved thereby, she filed the petition, which has been dismissed in vide the impugned order and judgment dated 20.08.2019.

Mr. Darpan Wadhva, a qualified senior advocate who appeared on the behalf of the petitioner submitted that the petitioner was the senior ad-hoc assistant professor working in an English department of the Respondent College and that after the termination of service illegally and unlawfully, those who were junior to her, were given extensions throughout the same academic year, right from May 2019 till date. It was also claimed that it was only because the petitioner had insisted on maternity benefits that her ad-hoc appointment was not extended out of and therefore the termination letter was liable to be overruled.

Arguments by the Respondent

Mr. Mohinder J.S. Rupal, a learned advocate who appeared on the behalf of the respondent submitted that a Non Ad-hoc instructor was entitled to maternity leave because the rule did not allow for the same and the petitioner could not seek any such benefit or claim an extension of her tenure on the plea that when her tenure had ended on 18.03.2019, being on maternity leave, she was still on the rolls of the respondents. It was also submitted that there is no vested right in ad-hoc teachers to claim an extension of tenure.

According to learned counsel for the respondents, despite this, the College was magnanimous enough to have asked the petitioner on 27.03.2019, as to when could she join the College but she waited till 14.05.2019 to respond to this letter, by which time, the College was about to break for the summer vacation. Therefore, non-assignment of any work to her on her request dated 27.05.2019, was neither illegal nor mala fide. With these pleas, the respondents have prayed that the present appeal merited dismissal.

Learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondent college has relied on several judgments to contend that the appellant/petitioner had no vested right to such an appointment made on an ad-hoc basis.

Judgment

The appeal is allowed with costs of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand only) imposed on the respondent college to be paid to the petitioner within four weeks.


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