‘Even permanently unaided institutions have poll duties’

Mumbai: In a major setback for the employees of permanently unaided educational institutions, the Bombay High Court recently held they will have to perform election duties.

The HC trashed their contention that since neither the union or state governments fund the functioning of the institutions, thus they cannot be said to be ‘controlled’ by either of the governments.

A bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by various associations of engineering colleges, which are not funded by the union or state governments.

The basic contention of these associations was that since their operations are not funded by the union or state government, then their employees cannot be asked to perform election duties as the law only applies on government employees and not on the staff of such permanently unaided institutions.

Trashing their contentions, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “In the cases before us, merely because there is no funding or there is no financial aid does not mean that there is no control.

There is control by the respective governments on the activities of such institutions. These institutions may have been operating on permanent no grant or no aid basis but that by itself is not decisive much less conclusive.”

“Nobody can function as an educational institution uncontrolled or unregulated by either government. The regulation, in this case, is so comprehensive that it takes care of not only the component of fees to be charged but the manner in which admissions have to be made,” Justice Dharmadhikari held.

The bench noted that these engineering colleges are bound to follow the norms prescribed by the AICTE, the state government etc. while admitting students to various courses.

“There is no freedom in that regard because the courses, the subjects and the syllabus as a whole have to meet the approval of the AICTE, established under a central statute, the university to which the institution is affiliated and of the Directorate of Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra,” the bench noted.

“In such circumstances, to contend that there is no control, would not be a proper reading of the provisions,” the bench ruled.

The judges in their detailed judgment, further said that control can be direct or indirect by the union or a state government and that is distinct from “financing wholly or substantially by funds provided by these governments”.

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