The Gujarat High Court declined to intervene in a writ petition seeking reinstatement with all back pay and benefits filed by an assistant professor against Sabarmati University, a private university. Judge Bhargav Karia clarified that the dispute regarding the termination was “in the domain of a private contract” and therefore concluded:
“…if there is an alleged arbitrary action on the part of the defendant, that would give the petitioner cause to bring a civil action in the civil court, but in the facts of this case, the written petition against the establishment of private education governed by the Gujarat Private Universities Act 2009 would not be sustainable.“
The applicant received three months’ notice from August 2013, allegedly without any reason. Therefore, the petitioner had previously filed a claim with the Gujarat Affiliated Colleges Service Tribunal and later withdrew his claim to file the subpoena in the High Court.
The defendants disputed that the petition was inadmissible on the grounds that the university was a private university and did not come under the term “State” within the meaning of Article 12. Moreover, the plaintiff’s terms of employment would not bring his services into the realm of ‘civil service or duty.’
The petitioner, on the contrary, insisted that the university was established under the Gujarat Private Universities Act 2009. failing to perform public duty. The state government exercised direct and pervasive control over its operation, as stated in Sections 31 to 35 of Chapter VI of the Act. We relied on Janet Jeyapaul v SRM University and others. where the Supreme Court had ruled that the writ petition was admissible against the reputable university whose functions were governed by the UGC Act of 1956.
Taking stock of the claims, Judge Karia referred to Mukesh Bhavarlal Bhandari and others vs. Dr Nagesh Bhandari and others where the co-ordinated formation of the High Court in similar circumstances had reiterated:
“Merely because the activity of the said research institute ensures the benefit of the Indian public, this cannot be a determining factor in determining the character of the Institute and bringing it into the scope of “public service or public duty”. .“
The High Court also rejected the reference to Janet Jeyapaul since in this case and ruled that the applicant’s termination should be decided in the area of a private contract.
“It is therefore unnecessary to consider the merits of the case with respect to the issue of show cause notice to provide an opportunity for a hearing resulting in a breach of the principle of natural justice and whether the action of the Respondent University is unfair or not because all of these disputes essentially fall within the realm of private contract…“
Accordingly, the motion was dismissed.
Case No: C/SCA/17863/2013
Case title: SHAMBHAVI KUMARI v/s SABARMATI UNIVERSITY & 3 other(s)
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