The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a Patna High Court judgement that had upheld the Bihar government’s decision to terminate the services of teachers of an Ayurvedic College based on the report of a screening committee.
A bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka took note of the fact that the services of the teachers were regularised after their private Ayurvedic college in Bhojpur district was taken over by the state government under the Bihar Private Medical (Indian System of Medicine) College (Taking over) Act, 1985.
“In our considered view, the High Court under the impugned judgement has completely overlooked the scheme of the Act 1985 read with notification… pursuant to which the exercise was to be undertaken by the State Government for absorbing teaching/non-teaching employees of private Ayurvedic College and this was the apparent error committed by the High Court which, in our view, is not sustainable in law and deserves to be set aside,” it said.
The bench permitted the appeal of five teachers of Sri Dhanwantri Ayurved College, Buxar of Bhojpur District against the high court verdict which had considered the report of a screening committee.
The committee had held a few of the staffers, including teachers and non-teaching ones, as unfit for regularisation of services under the 1985 statute. The five appellants, who were holders of degrees in Ayurveda, were appointed as lecturers in 1978-79 and later got promoted as Reader/Professor and their services got regularised under the 1985 state law.
Later, the services of appellants were terminated based on the report of the screening committee and the High Court upheld the decision. “It is not disputed that each of the appellants was holding the essential academic qualifications prescribed for teaching staff as on the date of their initial appointment in the year 1978-79 in the private Ayurvedic College and were serving the institution when the Act, 1985 came into force…,” it said. The bench said the requirement for regularisation of services under the notification made under the statute was never the subject matter of challenge and hence, the high court committed an error. “The four appellants who have attained the age of superannuation shall be treated to be in continuous service and their service shall be treated as a qualifying service for all practical purposes, including for pension and other retiral benefits, which each of the appellants is legitimately entitled to under the rules,” it said.
However, it made clear that these four teachers shall not be entitled to salary for the intervening period during which they have not served the institution.