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Guj HC again ‘strongly disapproved’ of GNLU’s manner of functioning, as employee wins challenge of arbitrary sacking

High court finds against GNLU: Contractual employee was terminated unlawfully
High court finds against GNLU: Contractual employee was terminated unlawfully

GNLU Gandhinagar’s order terminating the appointment of its account officer was unfair, ruled the Gujarat high court last week, ordering GNLU to allow the officer to continue in his post.

The high court’s Justice Sonia Gokani wrote in a 57-page judgement in the case against accounts officer Manoj Patel’s oral termination of appointment by GNLU:

action of the respondent­ University cannot be endorsed by any standard and in fact, deserves to be strongly disapproved, terming the same as arbitrary and unreasonable in absence of any reason much less valid and cogent grounds for such termination and resultantly, the petition deserves to be allowed.

She added that it was wrongful for GNLU to have ended Patel’s appointment orally by the end of 2016, before the expiration of the period of his contractual employment that should have contractually continued until 2019, without stating any grounds for such termination.

She said that the discretion of the appointing authority is still subject to the fundamental rights of the petitioner:

even if the respondent­ University claims to be governed by the terms of the contract, then also any termination without any material for ending the service of an employee, prior to January 01, 2019, can be held to be an act, which surely warrants indulgence being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

It is undoubtedly the discretion of the concerned authority either to appoint a person or to grant extension. If the terms indicated in the letter of appointment are to govern the contractual appointment, then also the Regulations provide for completing the contractual appointment for the period for which it had been granted.

Patel’s termination had been stayed after the high court gave interim relief in January 2017 following the filing of his petition.

We understand that another case against GNLU brought by three employees before the Gujarat HC alleging illegal appointments by the law school, was recently dismissed with the petitioners being asked to place their case before the GNLU executive council again or to approach a division bench of the high court if not satisfied with the outcome.

Also, the inquiry commission ordered by former chief justice of India CS Thakur, to be set-up to look into GNLU director Bimal Patel’s allegedly improper appointments at the law school, remains in limbo.

This case is not the first time the Gujarat high court has passed adverse orders against GNLU. In May 2016, the high court had infamously noted that GNLU had been turned “into an oligarchy where all decisions are taken, reviewed and implemented by a select few, and students are casually denied basic human rights and natural justice”.

HC order against GNLU termination of employment (PDF)

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