AICTE Rules and Regulations Mandatory on Private Unaided Colleges: Karnataka HC
24th May 2021, Karnataka High Court in Dr. G.R. Bharath Sai Kumar vs State of Karnataka allowed writ petition (Writ Petition No.15421/2020) of a professor of a private unaided engineering college and passed judgment to quash the memo which directed his retirement at the age of 60 as against AICTE regulations which mandate age of superannuation as 65 years for all faculty members and Principals/Directors of institutions.
The Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. Nagaprasanna which had earlier passed an interim order dated 30.12.2020 granted an order of stay of retirement of the petitioner. It is the Memo/communication seeking to retire the petitioner on 31.12.2020 that is called in question in this writ petition.
The court observes:
In the light of the judgment of the Constitution Bench in the case of Unni Krishnan and all other judgments (supra) with regard to binding nature of the Regulations of AICTE upon the Institutes it governs, insofar as prescription of norms and standards, inter alia, the petitioner is entitled to succeed.”
The contention between the petitioner and respondent was regarding whether the institute has autonomy over determining service conditions and if determination of age of superannuation is a matter of policy of the Institute. The respondent contended that there can be no application of any order of the Government or the AICTE directing enhancement of age of retirement as it receives no aid from the State and is free to regulate the service conditions of its employees.
The court observed that The All-India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 was promulgated by the Government of India for a proper planning and coordinated development of technical education system throughout the country and also to regulate maintenance of norms and standards in technical education and other matters connected therewith.
The relevant section of The AICTE Act, 1987 pointed out by the honorable court which regulates the institutions are:
- Section 10(1) casts a duty on the AICTE Council to take all such steps for maintenance of standards for ensuring coordinated and integrated development of technical education.
- Section 10(1)(g) deals with the functions of the AICTE to evolve suitable performance appraisal systems for technical institutions and universities imparting technical education, incorporating norms and mechanisms for enforcing accountability;
- Section 10 (1)(i) deals with laying down norms and standards for courses, curricula, physical and instructional facilities, staff pattern, staff qualification, quality instructions, assessment and examinations.
The AICTE has power under section 23 to promulgate Rules and Regulations from time to time and such a Regulation was passed by AICTE on 1 March 2019 I.e., “AICTE Regulations on pay scales, service conditions and minimum qualifications for the appointment of teachers and other academic staff such as library, physical education and training & placement personnel in technical institutions and measures for the maintenance of standards in technical education (Degree) Regulation, 2019.” Regulation 2.12 of the said regulation deals with age of superannuation and reads “The age of superannuation of all faculty members and Principals/Directors of institutions shall be 65 years.”
Court referred to the mandatory nature of the Regulations notified by the AICTE applicable to degree level institutions by the Apex Court in the case of Parshvanath Charitable Trust v. All India Council for Technical Education reported in (2013) 3 SCC 385. Also, there were no uniform service rules applied in the institutions regarding age of retirement and the arbitrary retirement procedure was followed.
Further contention by the respondent institute was that private institute do not fall within writ jurisdiction of the HC under 226. The court held that private unaided institutes are also authority against which writ can be maintained as it is a body performing public functions “In view of the law laid down in the aforementioned judgment of this Court, the judgment of the learned Single Judge [Ramesh Ahluwalia v. State of Punjab, 2009 SCC OnLine P&H 11755] as also the Division Bench [Ramesh Ahluwalia v. State of Punjab, 2010 SCC OnLine P&H 13111] of the High Court cannot be sustained on the proposition that the writ petition would not maintainable merely because the respondent institution is a purely unaided private educational institution. The appellant had specifically taken the plea that the respondents perform public functions i.e., providing education to children in their institutions throughout India”
Therefore, the court set aside the impugned memo of the institute and passed order that petitioner is entitled to continue in service till he attains the age of 65 years.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL