Friday, December 25, 2015

Court above Private Universities and Minority Institutions in Public service -Supreme Court

HCs have jurisdiction over private univs, says SC

 "Salve argued that if any organization or body was performing 'public function' or 'public duty', it was within the writ jurisdiction of high court."

 | TNN | Dec 25, 2015, 02.21 AM IST

CHENNAI: Can employees of private universities drag the institutions to writ courts over job-related disputes? Yes, said the Supreme Court, holding that private universities were discharging 'public functions' and doing 'public duty', so they are amenable to writ jurisdiction of high courts.
The ruling came in a case filed by a senior lecturer dismissed by the Chennai-based SRM University. The aggrieved lecturer, Janet Jeyapaul, took the matter to the apex court after the Madras high court had ruled that the petition was beyond its purview. Reversing the high court order, a division bench of Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Abhay Mohan Sapre said, "If any activity by an authority had a "public element," it was within the high court's purview."

After Janet was relieved from her job in May 2012, she moved the Madras high court, where a single judge asked the university to reinstate her after quashing her termination letter. The university appealed against the verdict. A division bench set aside the single judge verdict saying according to the provisions of the Indian constitution, the high court did not have the jurisdiction to examine the legality of the dismissal order. She could, however, approach a tribunal, said the bench. Janet then moved the Supreme Court. The bench of Justice Chelameswar and Justice Sapre said senior counsel Harish Salve could assist the court as she did not have legal assistance.

Salve argued that if any organization or body was performing 'public function' or 'public duty', it was within the writ jurisdiction of high court. As SRM University was imparting education to students, it was performing a public function, he said. The university was also conferred the status of deemed university by UGC, where its functions were governed by the UGC Act.
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Agreeing with his submissions, the bench said the division bench had erred in saying the writ was not maintainable. It also said that the division bench, without examining the merits of the case, had reversed the single judge's order. So, the matter could be reverted to the division bench to decide the case on its merits, the bench added.

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