HEARING APPEALS seeking enhancement of retirement age from 60 to 65 years of Panjab University professors, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday made it clear that around 45 professors “re-employed” after completion of 60 years of age would continue to draw full salary and emoluments, excluding the house rent allowance (HRA), till further orders.
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A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Sudip Ahluwalia ordered, “The appellants are entitled to continue without break so as to draw emoluments which they were drawing earlier before August 16 order of the single judge.”
The court clarified that the expression “re-employment’ used in August 22 order does not mean that appellants have acknowledged their retirement and then re-employed. The said expression was used keeping in mind that there was adverse order passed against them (by single judge bench on August 16).
“The single judge bench had dismissed a bunch of petitions seeking enhancement of retirement age from 60 to 65 years. The judge had said that their retirement age cannot be enhanced like that of central university or centrally funded varsity teachers until the Centre government officially declares Panjab University a centrally funded university. But the professors had moved in appeal before the division bench,” the court observed.
The court also held the order passed by the Panjab University’s vice-chancellor on November 25 as “most fair, just and workable solution” wherein the V-C had issued directions to pay full salaries, excluding HRA, to appellant professors as they were drawing before August 16 order of the single judge bench.
The court observed that Panjab University was equally justified in taking undertakings from these professors that salaries paid to them shall be subject to the final outcome of appeals and would be adjusted from retirement benefits in case their appeal goes against them.
The court orders came after Panjab University’s senior advocate Anupam Gupta submitted that though the varsity has complied with court’s directions, since there was confusion about ‘re-employment’ word used in the court order, the Panjab University had released salary after deducting pension amount to the appellant professors which is a practice in case of re-employed professors. But the vice-chancellor had on November 25 passed fresh orders.
However, senior advocate Salil Sagar, appearing for the college lecturers who were also seeking enhancement of their retirement age from 60 to 65 years, submitted that the college lecturers should also be allowed to continue in job like in case of Panjab University professors. To this, the court replied, “As far as colleges are concerned, we’ll consider it later.” At the same time, the court also said that it had not stopped the colleges from re-employing the lecturers, if they want. “We are more keen to decide appeals on merits,” the court remarked. The case was posted for next hearing to February 14.