The state government became the first in the region to have set the ball rolling for an Educational Tribunal.
R L Anand,a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court,took charge as the chairman of the Tribunal on Friday.
Employees of aided and unaided educational institutes in the state,caught in various disputes with their managements including those of promotion or pay scales,will soon be able to approach the Tribunal.
The state governments decision to set up an Educational Tribunal comes years after the Supreme Court ordered for its setting up in states across the country. The apex court passed the order on October 31,2002,acting on a writ petition,TMA Pai Vs State of Karnataka.
Five years later,the Punjab government introduced the bill,which was incorporated into the gazette on February 25,2008.
The Tribunal will have two members,one from the administrative background not below the rank of principal secretary of the state government and the other from academic background who must have held the office of a college principal for a minimum of one year before retirement. The names of these members have not been announced so far. Besides,the government is yet to induct staff to make the Tribunal functional.
As per notification by the state government,the Tribunal will have the same powers as vested in the appellate courts by the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). It will thus have the power to stay operations of any order appealed against on such terms as it may think appropriate and the orders passed by it will be final.
It is expected that once the Tribunal becomes functional,cases being heard by the High Court or at the departmental level may also be transferred to it.
Justice Anand,who was a member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for five years after retirement from the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003,said the tribunal will have jurisdiction to hear all cases of disputes between managing committees and employees as defined in the Punjab Affiliated Colleges Security of Services Act 1974,and in Punjab Privately Managed Recognised Schools Employees Security of Services Act,1979.
In May 2008,while hearing a case between a principal and a Mohali-based school management,the Punjab and Haryana High Court had pressed on the state government to constitute an educational tribunal. The court had also issued notices to the Punjab government on July 15,2008,in the case and directed it to expedite the process of setting up the tribunal.
The state government has amended the Punjab Affiliated Colleges Security of Service Act,1974,to incorporate the Educational Tribunal. The amendments have been made in Section 7 and the Tribunal has been substituted in clause 7A of the Act.