HC relief for Mumbai University’s temporary non-teaching staff

Mumbai: Offering relief to hundreds of temporary non-teaching employees of the Mumbai University, the Bombay High Court has restrained the varsity from terminating their services and directed it to pay all their pending dues.

In a judgement passed on May 3, a single judge bench of Justice A K Menon upheld portions of a 2018 judgement of the industrial court in the city that had restrained the university from terminating the services of around 900 temporary employees without following the due process of law.

The industrial court had held at the time that in terminating the services of these employees in 2014, the university had violated provisions of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971(MRTU & PULP Act).

The industrial court had also directed the university to pay the dues of these employees from the date of its order. However, these employees, several employees’ unions, and the university moved the high court last year, challenging parts of the industrial court’s order.

While the employees wanted that they be paid their dues from the time they filed the plea, the university argued that it was not an industrial body and therefore, the issue was out of the court’s jurisdiction. The varsity also argued before the high court that the employees had been hired on a temporary basis and they were well aware of this fact at the time of their appointment.

As per the plea, the petitioners filed it before the industrial court on behalf of 938 employees in 2014. They claimed they had been working for the university for several years and therefore, they must be regularised. The plea said they had completed duty for 240 days in 12 months, as required by the university rules for one to seek regularisation of one’s post.

However, the university refused to regularise their posts and instead began terminating their services without following due procedure, they claimed. Justice Menon held that the petitioners deserved relief and that the university had definitely violated provisions of the MRTU & PULP Act.

“In my view, if education is an industry, the university is one of its crucibles. That having been said, the industrial court has rightly come to the conclusion that the university is not an industrial establishment as contemplated under the Model Standing Orders,” the high court said.

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