A division bench of the Madras High Court has confirmed an order of a single judge upholding the show cause notices (SCNs) issued to thousands of staff members of the Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu to downgrade their salaries.
The bench of Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Krishnan Ramaswamy upheld the order dated March 5, 2019 of the single judge while dismissing a batch of over 400 writ appeals recently.
Pursuant to a proposal of the government to take over Annamalai University, located at Chidambaram in Cuddalore district and a resolution dated February 8, 2017, all the employees of the varsity were served with the notices, calling upon them to explain as to why their pay scales should not be downgraded.
The appellants in all these appeals are employees of the university who had challenged the February 2017 resolution of the Syndicate and the consequent show cause notices dated August 13, 2018 of the Higher Education department. By the March 2019 common order, the single judge had dismissed the writ petitions. Aggrieved, the staff members preferred the present appeals.
They contended that the notices in question disclosed premeditation or bias and therefore, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Rejecting the contention, the bench pointed out that there is no personal ill-will attributed to a specific person.
“Accordingly, this court is unable to find any traces of premeditated mind on the part of the University from the reading of the notices, which are mere notices affording opportunity to the appellants to respond to the proposal contained in them,” the bench said.
The conversion of the Annamalai University from a unitary institution into an affiliating type institution would ease out the difficulties of the appellants and create more new posts, in which they could be accommodated, the bench added.
“Considering the fact that the issue is pending at the show cause notice stage itself for years,” the bench directed the appellants to submit their reply/response/objection within two weeks, if not submitted earlier and the respondent university shall proceed with the same in accordance with law, as expeditiously as possible.
It goes without saying that the appellants are entitled to raise all the grounds before the authorities, the bench added.
“For the foregoing reasons, we do not find any error in the orders of the single judge, which are impugned in these writ appeals, as there is no merit in these appeals and accordingly, these appeals are dismissed as devoid of merits,” the judges said.