J.K.Chaudhuri Vs. R. K. Datta Gupta
& Ors  INSC 37 (7 April 1958)
BHAGWATI, NATWARLAL H.
CITATION: 1958 AIR 722 1959 SCR 455
University of Gauhati, Powers of Principal
dismissed by Governing Body of College-If University can interfere- Gauhati
University Act (Ass. XVI of 1947), SS. 2, 9, 12 and 21, Statutes of the
University, cls. 1, 2 and 3.
R was appointed Professor of Mathematics in a
College affiliated to the Gauhati University. He was later appointed Principal
of the College. On complaints being made against R the Governing Body of the
College held an enquiry and ordered his dismissal as Principal and Professor of
Mathematics. R made representations to the Vice- Chancellor of the Gauhati
University and the Executive Council of the University appointed a committee to
report on the propriety of the action taken. Upon the report of the committee
that there was no reasonable ground justifying the dismissal of R, the
Executive Council passed a resolution directing the Governing Body to reinstate
R : Held, that the Executive Council acted without jurisdiction in so far as it
interfered with the action taken against R as the Principal of the College. The
Gauhati University Act, 1947, and the Statutes framed under s. 21(g) thereof
made a distinction between a Principal and a teacher.
Clause 3(g)(v) Of the Statutes empowered the
Executive Council to interfere only with the action taken by the Governing Body
of an affiliated College against a teacher and not with action taken against a
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No.321 of 1957.
456 Appeal by special leave from the judgment
and order dated June 13, 1956, of the Assam High Court in Civil Rule No. 80 of
Ranadeb Chaudhury and D. N. Mukherjee, for
N. C.Chatterjee, and Naunit Lal, for
respondents Nos. 2 and 3.
Naunit Lal, for respondent No. 1.
1958. April 7. The following Judgment of the
Court was delivered by KAPUR J.-This is an appeal by special leave brought by
J. K. Chaudhuri for and on behalf of the Governing Body of Guru Charan College,
Silchar (which will be referred to in this judgment as the College) against a
judgment and order of the High Court of Judicature in Assam dated June 13, 1956,
dismissing the appellant's petition under Art. 226. It raised the question as
to the nature and extent of the jurisdiction of the Executive Council of the
University of Gauhati in regard to disciplinary action taken by the Governing
Body of the College against its Principal, R. K. Datta Gupta, respondent No. 1.
In 1937, respondent No. I was appointed
Professor of Mathematics in the college. He was appointed Vice-Principal in
1947 and Principal in 1950. Due to certain representations made to the Governing
Body against respondent No. 1, a committee was appointed by the Governing Body
to enquire into the allegations. This committee held several sittings and made
a report after considering which the Governing Body held a prima facie case
made out against him, placed him under suspension and called upon him to answer
the charges within 15 days. This he failed to do but later on submitted an
explanation which was duly considered.
As fresh material was disclosed after the
suspension, respondent No.1 was called upon to give a further explanation. He
then requested for the previous charges being decided before enquiry into fresh
charges was made.
The Governing Body held a meeting on November
1, 1953, and after considering 457 the matter found him guilty of moral
turpitude and dishonesty and also gross negligence of duty, inefficiency and
insubordination and ordered his dismissal as Principal and Professor of
Mathematics of the college. r, On November 30, 1953, respondent No. I filed a
suit being Title Suit No. 282 of 1953, in the Court of Munsif Sadar, Silchar,
challenging the legality of the proceedings of the committee appointed by the
Governing Body and of the proceedings and decision taken by it and prayed for
an injunction restraining the Governing Body from appointing another Principal.
He also applied for a temporary injunction. This suit was transferred to the
Court of the Subordinate Judge U. A. D., at Silchar and was renumbered as Title
Suit No. 10 of 1954 which has not yet been decided.
On November 11, 1953, respondent No. I made a
representation to the Vice-Chancellor of the Gauhati University against his
dismissal and prayed that the Governing Body be directed not to fill up the
post of Principal pending the disposal of his appeal which was filed on
November 30, 1953, and which was a reiteration of the allegations made by him
in the plaint in the suit in the Court of Munsif Sadar. The Executive Council
of the University, i. e., respondent No. 2 thereupon appointed under para. 3(h)
of the Statutes framed under s. 21(g) of the Gauhati University Act (Assam XV1
of 1947) (hereinafter called the Act) a committee, respondent No. 3, consisting
of the Vice-Chancellor, the Director of Public Instruction and the Legal
Remembrance of the State of Assam to report on the propriety of the action
taken. After considering the matter and giving full opportunity to both sides
respondent No. 3 on March 30, 1955, made a report to respondent No. 2 that:
" there was no reasonable ground
justifying the dismissal of Shri R. K. Datta Gupta from the post of the
Principal, Guru Charan College Silchar." On April 20,1955, this report was
accepted by respondent No.
2 and it passed the following resolution :
".................. Resolved that the
findings of the Committee be accepted and in view of the facts that Sri R.
K. Datta Gupta was not dismissed on any 458
reasonable grounds, the Governing Body be directed to reinstate him before 31st
July, 1955." Against this order the Governing Body of the college filed a
petition under Art. 226 in the High Court of Assam but the petition was
dismissed on June 13,1956.
Although in the High Court the appellant
challenged the power of the University to interfere with the decision of the
Governing Body of the college removing respondent No. I both from Principalship
and from Professorship of Mathematics, in this Court the arguments were
confined to the former only. The two categories, it was submitted, were
distinct and were dealt with in the Act and the Statute made there under
separately. The Principal was merely the administrative head of the 'College
and a teacher solely engaged in imparting instructions. The Act therefore
contemplates their discharging different functions. To support this contention,
various provisions of the Act and the Statutes made under the Act were referred
to. The words " Principal " and " Teacher"' are defined in
s. 2 of the Act :
" 2 (h) I Principal' means the head of a
College, and includes where there is no Principal, the person for the time
being duly appointed to act as Principal, and, in the absence of the Principal,
a Vice-Principal duly appointed as such.
2(k) 'Teacher' includes Professors, Readers,
Lecturers and other persons imparting instructions in the University or in any
College or Hall The distinction finds further support from other provisions of
the Act which maintain a clear distinction between a Principal ' and a '
Teacher '. Section 9 of the Act deals with the constitution of the Court which
has three classes of members: Ex-Officio members, Life Members and Other
Members. Principals fall under class I and are mentioned in sub-s. (vii).
Teachers come under the heading I Other Members' enumerated in class 111. In
sub-s. (xiv) representation is given to 'Teachers' elected from their own body
who are not Professors or Readers of the University.
459 Similarly in the constitution of the
Executive Council contained in s. 12, a distinction is maintained between
Principals who are in class 1, i. e., Ex-officio members and Professors of the
University who are in,; class 11, i. e., Other members. Amongst the former have
to be included two Principals of recognised colleges elected from their own
body and in Class 11 representation is given to Professors of the University
and none to the teachers. Therefore wherever the provisions of the Act mention
the word a 'Principal' or a 'Teacher' two distinct entities are indicated and
one is not to be included in the other.
The Statutes made under s. 21(g) of the Act
also maintain this distinction in their various clauses and where the word
'principal' occurs it is used in its distinctive and restrictive sense and
where the word I teacher' or the phrase 'member of the teaching staff , or any
other similar word or phrase is used the reference is to a teacher and not to a
principal. Clause I of the Statute requires the existence of a Governing Body
for each college not maintained by the University. Clause 2 (a) gives its
constitution which includes the Principal and the Vice- Principal as ex-officio
members and so also two representatives of the teaching staff to be elected
annually showing that a Principal as such is distinct from a member of the
teaching staff which must necessarily mean employees of colleges engaged in the
teaching of various subjects.
Clause 2 (c) nominates the Principal as the
Secretary of the Governing Body. Sub-cls. (a), (b), (c) and (d) of el. 3 deal
with a teacher's appointment, pay, scales of pay, probation and period of
appointment. Sub-el. (e) deals with increments. It provides:
" An increment according to the pay
scale will be drawn as a matter of course..................... The increment
may be withheld on the ground of unsatisfactory work of an
employee..................... " The word 'employee' here must necessarily
refer to a teacher because it provides for increments according to pay scales
and the withholding of increments for unsatisfactory work of an employee dealt
with in the first four sub-clauses which in terms apply to a teacher.
460 Sub-cl. (f) deals with the period of
service. Sub-cls (i) and (ii) are as follows:
" (i) The services of a permanent
employee shall not be determined except on reasonable grounds.
(ii) The services of a permanent employee
shall not be terminated in the course of an academic session except on very
special grounds, such as moral turpitude, proved incapacity and inefficiency.
If the Governing Body of a college considers
it advisable that the services of a permanent employee should be terminated on
any of the grounds mentioned in clause (g) (ii), the matter shall be forthwith
reported to the Executive Council ".
The use of the phrase 'academic session'
indicates that the 'Permanent employee' must be a person connected with
teaching for otherwise it lacks meaning. The language of sub-cl. (g) (iii)
which is as follows:
"A teacher whose services are dispensed
with on grounds other than those mentioned in clause (g) (ii) shall be paid
compensation equal to as many months' pay as the number of completed years of
his service, subject to a maximum of twelve months' pay " further supports
this interpretation that a 'permanent employee' mentioned in sub- el. (g) (ii)
refers to a teacher and to no one else. This is further strengthened by the use
of the word 'teacher' in sub-cl. (g) (iv) which provides for the procedure for
an enquiry where a teacher has to be dismissed, suspended or reduced in pay.
Sub-cl. (g) (v) reserves to the Executive
Council of the University the power to enquire into causes of dismissal of a
teacher whether on its own motion or on an appeal by the teacher. Sub-el. (h)
which is in the following words:
"All cases of dismissal, suspension, or
any other serious grievance of the teaching staff will be considered by a
Committee of the following members uses the words " teaching staff "
and this again shows that the reference is to the teacher and not to a
Principal because el. 3 taken as a whole clearly deals with the conditions of
service of a teacher, compensation to be paid to him and the procedure to be
followed 461 in cases of disciplinary action taken against him. These words
cannot in- the context in which they appear in the Statutes or in the context
of the language of the Act itself have reference to anybody other than a member
of the teaching staff, i. e., teacher. It shows therefore that in cl. 3 of the
Statute where the expression used is " permanent employee " or the
"teacher" or " teaching staff " the reference is to members
of the college who are teachers as such and it hag no application to any other
employee of the college such as a Principal.
Deka J. was of the opinion that as respondent
No. I held two capacities-that of the Principal and membership of the teaching
staff, respondent No. 2 could order his restoration to both the offices because
the two capacities could not be separated. As shown above the two capacities
are distinct with separate functions and have been separately dealt with in the
Act and the Statutes under the Act and the learned judge was in error in
holding otherwise. Sarjoo Parshad C. J. gave to the phrase I permanent
employee' used in the Statutes an extended meaning so as to include a Principal
as well as a college teacher. This again is an interpretation which is contrary
to the interpretation which stems from the analysis we have given above and is
Relying on sub-el, 3(h) of the Statutes
counsel for respondent No. 2 contended that as respondent No. I was a so a
member of the teaching staff being a Professor of Mathematics his case fell
within the words or any other serious grievance of the teaching staff These
words refer to grievances which a member of the teaching staff may have in his
capacity of a teacher and not in any other capacity and these words cannot be
extended to include the grievances of a teacher in connection with something
which is dehors the words of the clause and would not therefore include his
grievances which he may have if he is also the Principal.
As has been pointed out above the relevant
provisions of the Act and of the Statutes made under 59 462 s.21(g) of the Act
show the separate capacities of the Principal and the Teacher. The jurisdiction
of respondent No. 2 to interfere with the action taken by the Governing Body
arises only in the case of a teacher and would not extend to a case where the
same person holds these two offices, as there is no provision in the, Act or
the Statutes giving the University such power to interfere.
Consequently so far as Respondent No. 2
interfered with the action taken by the Governing Body against respondent No. 1
in his capacity as the Principal of the college it acted without jurisdiction
and therefore that part of the order of respondent No. 2 and the judgment of
the High Court to that extent cannot be sustained and must be set aside as
respondent No. 2 there acted in excess of jurisdiction.
We would, therefore, allow this appeal,
modify the order of the High Court and hold that the order of respondent No. 2
in regard to respondent No. I qua his office as Principal was without
jurisdiction and the order of reinstatement of respondent No. 1 by the
University to the post of Principal must be set aside. As the special leave was
directed against the judgment of the High Court both in regard to the office of
Principal and the office of teacher of the college and it was at the stage of
arguments that the case was confined to the ' Principal' of the college, the
proper order for costs should be that the parties do bear their own costs in
this Court as well as in the High Court.