Read Judgment: National Institute of Technology & Another vs. Om Prakash Rahi & Others 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 31, 2022: The Supreme Court has recently opined that Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) by its very nomenclature introduced for teachers and Central Government employees to overcome the problem of stagnation and hardship faced due to lack of adequate promotion avenues, nowhere tinker with the conditions of eligibility for appointment to the cadre posts. The National Institute of Technology has been permitted by the Top Court to consider re-designation of teachers as Associate Professor in accordance with MHRD guidelines & recommendation of Selection Committee by Board of Governors.

A Division Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Abhay S. Oka observed that the guidelines issued by the MHRD from time to time for revision of pay structure and re-designation of the teachers in NITs are in the form of accelerated promotions which remain coterminous with the person and are not related to post based promotions under the relevant recruitment rules, however, such scheme is not available under the National Institute of Technology Act, 2007

The observation came pursuant to an appeal challenging the judgment passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla which upheld the order passed by the Director of the National Institute of Technology without going through the process of selection of the teachers in the higher pay band of Rs.37400-67000 with AGP Rs.9000 and re-designated as Associate Professor consequent upon completion of three years of service in AGP Rs.8000 (6th Central Pay Commission) and directed the appellants to consider their claim for further promotion to the post of Professor, and if found suitable, the teacher may be promoted from the due date with all consequential benefits.

After considering the submissions, the Apex Court found that prior to the appellant institution becoming NIT, it was a  Regional Engineering College(REC) and at that time, the guidelines for CAS were prescribed by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). 

Consequent upon conversion into NIT with deemed status, specific guidelines were formulated by MHRD for CAS for faculty members of NITs wherein it was decided to implement Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) in NITs. The MHRD, on the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission, introduced schemes for revision of pay structure and re-designation of teachers and equivalent cadres in universities and colleges following the revision of pay scales of Central Government employees, but that is not applicable to the NITs and for NITs, separate directives were issued by the MHRD to grant accelerated promotional benefits of the scheme”, added the Court. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Rastogi highlighted that, to overcome the difficulties being faced on implementation of the revision of pay structure of teachers in Centrally Funded Technical Institutions, MHRD issued guidelines clarifying that the guidelines provided by AICTE and UGC are not applicable to NITs with a further specification that CAS in NITs will be governed by guidelines and regulations defined by MHRD and the council for NITs. 

Each of the respondent teachers was granted financial benefit of the AGP Rs.8000 in terms of MHRD guidelines dated 14th March, 2012 followed by 18th March, 2013 based on the recommendations of the selection committee constituted followed with interview and approval of Board of Governors to the post of Lecturer(Selection Grade) vide Office order dated June 25, 2013 and Nov 12, 2013 in the pay scale of Rs. 1200018300(corresponding to AGP Rs.8000 in 6th Central Pay Commission)”, added the Bench. 

But, Justice Rastogi observed that while placing in the higher pay band of Rs.37400-67000 with AGP Rs.9000 and re-designation as Associate Professor, no procedure was followed, neither selection committee was constituted nor their suitability was adjudged and also there was no approval of the Board of Governors which was the requirement of law under the Act 2007. 

The Director who is not even the authority competent under the provisions of the Act, 2007 straightaway, on its own discretion, without following the procedure prescribed by law, passed orders in favour of each of the respondent teachers on mere completion of three years’ service in the AGP Rs.8000 and placed them in the higher pay band of Rs.3740067000 with AGP Rs.9000 and re-designation of Associate Professor”, added the Bench.

Justice Rastogi further found that the power for appointment of teacher is vested only with the Board of Governors obviously on the recommendations made by the selection committee. 

Whereas, in the present scheme of the Act, 2007, the orders of placing the higher pay band and re-designating as Associate Professor to each of the respondent teachers couldnot be said to be in accordance with the procedure prescribed for CAS in terms of the guidelines issued by MHRD having not been followed by the Officer of the institution, couldnot be approved, concluded the Bench.

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