It had used the word ‘tenure’ instead of ‘contract’ in appointment orders

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has directed Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli district to regularise the services of 10 Assistant Professors because it had used the term ‘tenure’ meaning permanent posts and not ‘contract’ in the appointment orders issued to them five years ago under the 11th Plan period of University Grants Commission (UGC).

Allowing writ petitions filed by the Assistant Professors, Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma said that the varsity was not justified in relieving the petitioners after the end of the plan period on March 31 as the word ‘tenure’ was defined to mean ‘to give a permanent post to’ or ‘guaranteed permanent employment after a probationary period’ as per the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.

The judge pointed out that the university had the option of appointing staff either on contract basis or on tenure posts as per the Guidelines for General Development Assistance to Central, Deemed and State Universities under which the UGC funded the salaries for newly created posts for a period of five years in order to enable the varsities to deploy enough manpower on research activities.

If the universities had desired to continue the posts through their own funds after the expiry of the five-year period, then it was made mandatory for them to submit to the UGC either a copy of the concurrence accorded to such proposal by the State government or an undertaking by the varsity itself. Such concurrence or undertaking was not necessary if the posts were to be filled up on contract basis.

In the present case, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University had not given an undertaking or government concurrence to the UGC. But for reasons best known to it, the varsity had also not termed the appointment of the 10 petitioners as the one on contract basis. Therefore, it was bound to continue the posts even after expiry of the plan period and retain the petitioners in service, the judge held.