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HomekarnatakaJobs in unaided educational institutions need to be protected too, says HC

Jobs in unaided educational institutions need to be protected too, says HC

Bengaluru: The High Court has said that the provisions of the Karnataka Education Act 1983, pertaining to resignation and retrenchment, are applicable to employees of private unaided and linguistic minority institutions.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit observed this while dismissing a writ appeal filed by a city-based college.

The appeal was filed by the Rajarajeshwari Dental College and Hospital, Bengaluru, challenging the single bench order dated January 24, 2023.

On June 11, 2021, the college management had issued a notice to Dr Sanjay Murgod, son of former high court judge AB Murgod, who was working as Professor, Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology.

The management had stated that he will be terminated in three months, effective from June 14, 2021. In its order on the petition filed by Dr Sanjay, the single bench had directed the college to reinstate him with 25% of the basic pay without emoluments, for a period of 12 months.

In the appeal, the college management argued that they are private unaided as well as a linguistic minority institution and hence, the provisions of Karnataka Education Act 1983 are not applicable.

It was also claimed that in the TMA Pai judgment, the Apex Court had clearly differentiated unaided minority educational institutions from other educational institutions and therefore, the provisions of Section 98(1) of the 1983 Act cannot be invoked as they are an institution that is governed by the Dentists Act, 1948.

Section 97 relates to resignation mandating prior notice to the governing council and submission of the same in a prescribed form attested by an officer duly authorised by the state government, and Section 98 pertains to retrenchment of employees which requires approval of the competent authority or the next higher authority to take effect. The division bench observed that in a sense, these provisions aim at social security as well, like the labour laws do for the workmen.

The bench said that the text of Section 98(1) of the Act regarding retrenchment of employees employs the term ‘any employee’ and added that the word ‘employee’ is defined under Section 2(15) to mean a person employed in an educational institution.

“Had the legislature intended to exclude unaided educational institutions, it would have in so many words said it, as it has done in Section 98(2),” the bench said.

The court further said, “Section 98 secures the tenure by restricting the management’s power to remove or retrench the employees. The underlining philosophy of these provisions is that an employee whose tenure is secured will be in a better position to discharge his duties efficiently and that is necessary in public interest.

“It hardly needs to be emphasised that education and educational institutions play a pivotal role in nation building and therefore, a legislature rightly feels the need for protecting the tenure of service and its conditions of these employees,” the court said.

(Published 26 October 2023, 00:26 IST)

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