NAVIN CHANDRA DHOUNDIYAL Vs. STATE OF UTTARAKHAND
LAWS(SC)-2020-10-29
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on October 16,2020

Navin Chandra Dhoundiyal Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF UTTARAKHAND Respondents




JUDGEMENT

S.RAVINDRA BHAT, J. - (1.)Leave granted. The parties were heard finally in these appeals. The common question which arises for decision is as to the correct interpretation of a condition in the respondent-University's statutes regarding the date of superannuation of its teachers.
(2.)All the appellants are working as Professors in various disciplines, in the respondent Kumaun University (hereafter "the University"). They are aggrieved by an office order dated 21.12.2019 which set out their respective dates of retirement (which were the last dates in the months they attained the age of superannuation, i.e. 65 years). The appellants relied on Statute No. 16.24 of the University, applicable to them, contending that they were entitled to continue beyond the last date of the month in which each of them attained the age of superannuation, till the "30th of June following" in terms of that provision. That statute reads as follows:
"16.24 (1) The age of superannuation of a teacher of the University, whether governed by the new scale of pay or not shall be sixty-five years.

(2) No extension in service beyond the age of superannuation shall be granted to any teacher after the date of commencement of these statutes. provided that a teacher whose date of superannuation does not fall on June 30, shall continue on service till the end of the academic session, that is June 30, following and will be treated as on re-employment from the date immediately following his superannuation till June, 30, following.

(Provided further that such physically and mentally fit teachers shall be reappointed for a further period of two years, after June, 30, following the date of their superannuation as were imprisoned for taking part in freedom struggle of 1942 and are getting freedom fighters pension)

Provided also that the teachers who were re-appointed in accordance with the second proviso as it existed prior to the commencement to the Kumaun University (Twenty-third amendment) First Statute, 1988 and a period of one year has not elapsed after the expiry of the period of their reemployment, may be considered for re-appointment for a further period of one year."

(3.)The appellants were aggrieved by the office order dated 21.12.2019 and approached the Uttarakhand High Court in writ proceedings. They argued that they were entitled to continue in service, on extension up to the end of June, 2021. They had relied on a previous judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court - Dr. Indu Singh vs. State of Uttarakhand, 2017 SCC Online 1527. In that judgment, the Division Bench had, on an interpretation of the relevant provisions (which were worded identically to Statute No. 16.24 as in this case) held that those who retire after 30th June are "entitled to continue till the end of the academic year". The Division Bench placed emphasis and importance on the legislative intent "to cater to the supreme need to not adversely affect the academic activities of the institution and to safeguard the interest of the students."
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