Panjab University to re-employ retired teachers

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Chandigarh : Panjab University (PU) has decided to re-employ retired academicians on contract after 58 faculty members retired at one go Saturday following a court ruling, an official said Sunday.

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The situation became acute Saturday with the retirement of 58 faculty members, including professors and readers of the varsity, after the Punjab and Haryana High Court Friday dismissed their petition to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62.

“PU is already short of teachers and various departments here are immensely dependent on the guest lecturers for the completion of their syllabus in time. With this decision of High Court, over 120 faculty members of the PU have been affected,” Ronki Ram, president of Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) told IANS.

There are over 60 teaching departments in PU and around 10,000 students from various states study in its Chandigarh campus.

“It has been decided in the syndicate meeting Saturday that PU will reinstate the retired teachers on one year contract till the age of 63. However there are teachers who have crossed the age of 63 and they can be re-employed as guest lecturers,” said Ronki Ram.

The issue of increasing the retirement age was in focus for last 3-4 years and over 70 petitions were before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Ronki Ram said: “Everyone knows that PU is reeling under the terrible faculty crunch but the university is helpless, as we do not have funds to recruit required number of teachers. Moreover, the conditions are imposed on us by the government to fill only 10 or 15 percent of the vacancies.”

The PU is alma mater of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and it is here that he started his career and went on to become a full professor at the young age of 32 years.

“This contractual re-employment scheme is only a temporary solution and will not help to erase the faculty vacuum that has been created because of the retirement of 58 teachers as already, around 30 out of these 58 have crossed the 63-year mark so they cannot avail this option,” said Manjit Singh, PUTA member.

The most affected departments with the decision of High Court are department of Correspondence studies from where 13 teachers retired, department of Chemistry from where seven teachers retired and the department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, which is already short of 16 teachers and four more retired Saturday.

“Besides, this scheme is not at all lucrative for these scholars and researchers as they can easily get better options elsewhere. Here they will be re-employed on the last drawn salary and there will be no pension scheme and they have to vacate the houses that they have got in the university premises,” said Singh.

He added: “If a teacher goes for this contractual re-employment then he has to submit a written affidavit that he will not appeal against this High Court decision in the Supreme Court of India. That is again an infringement of civil rights of an individual.”

PU, one of the oldest universities of the country was initiated in 1882 at Lahore (now in Pakistan) and was shifted to Chandigarh in 1956.