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The Director, State Institute of Medical Education & Technology (SI-MET), Thiruvananthapuram v/s C.S. Swapna, Senior Lecturer (Child Health Nursing) Si-Met College of Nursing, Tripunithura & Others

    WA. No. 208 of 2020
    Decided On, 18 February 2021
    At, High Court of Kerala
    For the Appellant: A.A. Ziyad Rahman, Lal K. Joseph, Suresh Sukumar, V.S. Shiraz Bava, K. Chacko Mathews, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1-R2, R5-R6, P. Nandakumar, S. Aneesh, Amrutha Sanjeev, Raji T. Bhaskar, Government Pleader.

Judgment Text
A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, J.

1. The Director, State Institute of Medical Education and Technology (hereinafter referred to as 'the SI-MET') is the appellant before us aggrieved by the judgment dated 21.11.2019 of the learned Single Judge in W.P(C).No.8265 of 2016. The Writ Petition was filed by persons, who were working as Senior Lecturers and Lecturers in the nursing colleges under the appellant institution, which is an autonomous society under the control of the State Government established to promote medical education and research in the State. It was the case of the petitioners that the Government had created various posts in the nursing colleges including those of Principal, Assistant Professor, Senior Lecturer and Tutor and the petitioners were initially appointed as Senior Lecturers on contract basis for a period of one year with effect from 08.10.2010 and 17.12.2010 respectively. It was in particular, pointed out that the appointment of the petitioners was pursuant to a valid selection process and after following the principles of communal rotation and the appointment itself was of persons, who satisfied the requirements of qualifications as prescribed by the Government Orders from time to time. The governing body of the appellant in its Meeting held on 17.02.2011 decided to regularise the services of the writ petitioners and the consequential order that was passed regularising them subject to the approval by the Government of the Special Rules, is dated 22.02.2011 and produced as Ext.P5 in the Writ Petition. The grievance of the petitioners in the Writ Petition was with regard to the non-extension to them of the benefits that were granted to persons appointed on contract appointment pursuant to the Notification dated 24.02.2016, where the applications were called for posts designated as Assistant Professor. It was the case of the petitioners that inasmuch as they were in no way less qualified than the persons called for through the Notification dated 24.02.2016, they should also be designated as Assistant Professors and extended the same scale of pay and the academic grade pay of Rs.7,000/- that was contemplated for such Assistant Professors. It was pointed out that, presently, they were designated as Senior Lecturers and Lecturers and were getting only lesser amounts by way of grade pay than what was contemplated in the Notification aforementioned. The prayer in the Writ Petition was essentially to quash the Notification dated 24.02.2006 that called for contract appointees to the post of Assistant Professor, and for a further direction to the appellant herein to post the petitioners as Assistant Professors in the scale of pay of Rs.15,600/- to Rs.39,100/- with AGP Rs.7,000/-.

2. Through the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the State Government, it was pointed out that the prayers of the petitioners could not be granted since, although the services of the petitioners had been regularised by the appellant herein, the same was subject to approval of the Special Rules by the State Government, and the said approval not having been granted so far, the petitioners could not claim the status of regular employees to whom alone the pay scale sought for could be granted.

3. The learned Single Judge, who considered the issue took note of the Government Order dated 07.12.2010, which dealt with the revision of scale of pay of teachers covered under the AICTE Scheme in Engineering Colleges/Universities to find that, inasmuch as the appointment of the petitioners in the nursing school was also on terms similar to those covered by the said Notification, the petitioners are entitled to be redesignated as Assistant Professors and to get all the service benefits flowing therefrom. The appellant herein was, therefore, directed to consider the case of the petitioners and other similarly situated persons taking note of the aforementioned Government Notification and pass orders extending to the petitioners the same benefits as are contemplated in the said Government Order.

4. Before us, it is the contention of the appellant that the Government Order dated 07.12.2010, referred to in the judgment of the learned Single Judge, has no application to the facts in the instant case. In particular, it is re-iterated that the writ petitioners not having been formally regularised on account of the non-approval of the Special Rules by the State Government, they could not be treated at par with regular employees for whom alone the pay scales and the benefits of academic grade pay as notified by the State Government from time to time would be applicable. The appellant also questions the legality of the directions in the impugned judgment that directs the appellant to comply with the terms of the Government Order dated 07.12.2010, which pertains to revision of scale of pay of teachers covered under the AICTE Scheme, which according to the appellant has no application to the teachers of a nursing college.

5. On a consideration of the rival submissions, while we find force in the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that reliance on the provisions of the Government Order dated 07.12.2010 may not have been justified to direct the appellant to extend the benefits envisaged therein for Lecturers and Assistant Professors to the writ petitioners in the instant case, we find that the appellant itself has in subsequent years made contract appointments to the post of Assistant Professors by appointing people, who have qualifications and experience similar to those possessed by the writ petitioners and by offering them Academic Grade Pay similar to that sought for by the writ petitioners. We are also given to understand that there is no difference in the nature of work discharged by the petitioners and the said contract appointees. Under the circumstances, while it may be a fact that the writ petitioners cannot claim the status of regular employees till such time as the formality regarding approval of the Special Rules is completed by the State Government, we are of the view that the Writ Petitioners cannot be denied benefits similar to those extended to the contract appointees subsequently engaged by the appellant. We, therefore, deem it appropriate to uphold the directions in the judgment impugned in this Writ Appeal, with the limited modification that instead of ensuring a parity of pay, allowances and academic grade pay with persons covered by the Government Order dated 07.12.2010, the appellant shall ensure parity in the pay and allowances and academic grade pay of the writ petitioners with those extended to the subsequently recruited Assistant Professors on contract basis under the appellant organization.

6. It is made clear that the aforesaid arrange

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ment shall continue till such time as the Government takes a decision on the request for approval to the Special Rules aforementioned, and on such approval being granted, the service conditions of the writ petitioners shall be governed by the terms of the regularization order as approved by the Government. Taking note of the apprehension of the respondents as regards further delay in the matter of grant of approval, and the fact that the period granted by the learned Single Judge has since expired, there will be a direction to the State Government to take a decision on the approval sought for by the appellant within an outer time limit of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment. The Writ Appeal is disposed as above.