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The Appointment of the Warden in College Affiliated To or Constituted of University of Delhi Is an Administrative Affair and University Has No Role To Play in This Regard: Supreme Court

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This case concerns the question of whether the appointment of the warden of the College Hostel can be made by the Principal of the College and discussed the procedure to be adopted for making the appointment of the Warden. 

Brief Facts of the Case

This appeal was filed by the petitioner- The Chairperson Governing Body, Daulat Ram College questioning the directions issued by the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in LPA filed by respondent No.1 Asha, although not interfering with the judgment of a single judge. 

The issue, in this case, concerned the appointment of the warden of the hostel of the college. Respondent No.4- Dr Kavita Sharma was appointed as warden of the College by the governing body from 12.09.2013 for two years. The term of appointment was going to an end, so Governing Body through a resolution re-appointed respondent No.4 as the warden for two years. 

The Governing Body directed the Principal, respondent No.3 to seek her willingness in writing, in case she agrees, issue her letter of appointment. The letter issued by the Principal, specified the term of appointment to be eight months only. Later, at the end of eight months, the Principal invited applications from permanent teachers interested to work as Warden of College Hostel. Respondent No.1 applied and was appointed as the Warden from 21.05.2016. 

In the meeting dated 24.06.2016, the Governing Body recorded that the Principal had illegally appointed respondent No.1. The Governing Body resolved that earlier status quo to be maintained and respondent No.4 would continue as warden till the time proper guidelines for appointment of warden are made by the Governing Body. 

The Respondent No.3-Principal dissented in the meeting and issued notice dated 30.07.2016 inviting applications from the interested permanent teachers for the post of the warden. Respondent No.1 filed a writ against this notice as she was appointed for two years and took charge on 21.05.2016. 

The Single Judge did not maintain Dr Asha’s position as warden and the Division Bench also did not interfere but issued certain directions.

Appellant’s Argument

The Governing Body of the College is the appointing authority of Warden of the College Hostel. The appointment of respondent No.1 was directly made by the Principal without the approval of the Governing Body, thus, illegal. 

Both the Single Judge and Division Bench had found the appointment of respondent No.1 illegal. The appointment made in pursuance of the judgment of Single Judge should be maintained and there was no occasion for fresh appointment as directed by Division Bench of the High Court. 

The Delhi University in its letters clarified that the appointment of warden and Matron in College Hostel is purely an administrative affair and the University of Delhi has no role to play in this regard. 

The Division Bench directed the Governing Body to make a fresh appointment by inviting application form interested permanent teachers, which will be placed before the staff council which will take the decision. However, the Ordinance XVIII, 6A(5)(b)(iii) of the University does not confer any authority to the staff council to appoint a Warden of the Hostel.

The letter of the University Grants Commission dated 19.02.1987 did not confer any authority on the Principal to make the appointment of Warden of the Hostel. The directions issued by the Division Bench encroached on the right of the Governing Body to exercise its jurisdiction of appointing authority of Hostel warden of the College. 

Respondent’s Argument

Respondent No.3 submitted that Daulat Ram College is affiliated with the University of Delhi and 95% of grants are funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and only 5% of the funds to be paid by the Ram Daulat College Society- Trust. The letter dated 19.02.1987 written by the UGC, which was ratified by the Executive Council of the University in its meeting said that the Principal is the appointing authority for the Warden of the College Hostel, as he is the administrative head of the College, thus entitled to make an appointment.  The Staff Council has no role in the appointment of Warden. 

Respondent No.1 had adopted the submission made by respondent No.3. Further, submitted that after the judgment of Division Bench, respondent No.1 was recommended as the Warden of the College Hostel by the Staff Council. The Chairperson of the Governing Body had no power to appoint any one of her choices as the Warden.

Respondent No.2- University of Delhi submitted that the appointment of existing teaching staff as the Warden of a College Hostel has not been specifically provided under any of the provisions of University of Delhi Act,1922, statutes and ordinances. 

All the colleges which are affiliated to or constituent of the University of Delhi, follow the practice of inviting application form interested teachers by putting up a notice by the Principal of the College and then the Principal Shortlists or recommends the name for the appointment, whereafter the Governing Body grants approval.

Observation by the Court

The letter of the UGC dated 19.02.1987, was written to the Vice-Chancellor of the Delhi University regarding revising the staffing patterns in the Hostels of the colleges affiliated to the Delhi University. This letter indicated that the Commission took the decision to provide additional staff for the smooth functioning of the Hostel of the College and no decision was taken regarding the appointment of the Warden. 

The aforesaid letter was ratified by the Executive Council, but the minutes indicate that the Commission approved the raising of the funding pattern of salaries of the employees of the Hostel from 75% to 95% and remaining by the Management. Only to this extent of the decision of the Commission Executive Council reiterated and there was no decision by the University that the appointment of Hostel Warden to be made by the Principal. 

It was further observed that the appointment of Warden in the College Hostel is purely an administrative affair of the College and the University has no role to play on this behalf. 

The Ordinance XVIII, 6-A deals with staff Council. Clause 5(a) of 6-A provides that subject to the provisions of the Act, the statutes, and the ordinances of the University, the Staff Council has to take decisions in matters enumerated therein. Clause 5(b) provides that the staff Council should make recommendations in matters enumerated therein. Formulation of guidelines regarding arrangements for the residence and welfare of the students in consultation with the appropriate student organization, in no manner, can constitute a power to appoint a Warden. 

The Ordinance XX empowers the Governing Body which is constituted by the Executive Council to appoint the administrative staff of the college and does not empower the Principal to make the appointment of the Warden and was neither empowered by any other statutory provisions. 

The Decision of the Court

The directions issued by the Division Bench of the High Court were set aside. 

The appeal was allowed with observations that the Governing Body should initiate the process for fresh appointment of Warden of the Hostel by inviting applications through the Principal of the College.

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