UP HC stays final selection of 180 asst professors in Lucknow University

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Lucknow, Feb 15 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court on Monday stopped the Lucknow University from finalising the selection of 180 assistant professors for time being for its various departments while allowing it to keep on the selection process.

A Lucknow bench of the high court put the interim stay on a plea by an aspiring applicant for the post of assistant professor in the Anthropology Department, who had questioned the rationale behind reserving seats in various departments, treating the entire varsity as one body for providing reservation.

The bench of Justice Irshad Ali also asked the varsity to keep one post of the assistant professor in the Anthropology Department vacant for the petitioner, Dr Preeti Singh, a general category candidate, till the decision on her petition.

The bench also asked the state government and University to file their replies to Singh's petition by March 10, the next date for the hearing of the case.

Dr Singh has contended in her petition that owing to the modality adopted by the varsity for reserving seats, none of the four vacant seats of the Anthropology Department has been left open for the general category candidates.

And this has made her ineligible even for applying for the appointment in the Anthropology Department, she said.

She pointed out that instead of reserving seats department-wise, the varsity has proceeded in the appointment process, treating itself as one body for all 180 vacant seats due to which no seats have been left open for the general category candidates in many departments.

Taking note of the contentions, raised by the petitioner, the bench put an interim stay on the final selection of assistant professors for the examination of the legality of the varsity’s reservation formulae.

Justice Ali gave the order observing that as per the past rulings of both the Supreme Court and this court, reserving seats department-wise or subject-wise would have been the appropriate methodology rather than treating the entire university as a single unit and reserving seats on the basis of all the vacancies of all departments put together.

While staying the final selection of teachers, the bench observed that the university has reserved seats adopting a central law which seeks to relax the Supreme Court’s 50 per cent limit on the total reservation, suppressing a 1994 state enactment on reservation observing the apex court’s limit.

Accordingly, it has to be decided whether the UP Public Services (Reservation For SC, ST And OBC) Act stands repealed by the adoption of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Act, 2019, which raises the reservation limit beyond 50 per cent, the bench said, framing a legal question for adjudication over the issue.

The petitioner raised this legal issue in her petition, with her counsel Anuj Kudesia alleging that the UP government illegally amended the provisions of the 1994 state law which prescribes a fifty per cent reservation against the vacancies existed in different departments.

He said the state government amended the provisions of the state law by adopting the Central law through a September 2, 2019 notification aimed at enabling the varsity to reserve more than 50 per cent of the vacant seats.

Opposing Kudesia’s arguments, the varsity counsel Anurag Singh submitted that following the Central government’s 2019 law which adds ten per cent more reservation, the fifty per cent reservation limit stands exceeded and the provision of the UP Public Services (Reservation For Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes And Other Backward Classes) Act, 1994 stands repealed.

The UP government’s counsel Alok Saran too adopted the LU counsel’s arguments.

Following the arguments and counter-arguments over the legality of the September 2019 advertisement for filling up the 180 vacancies, the bench said, “The controversy as to whether the UP government’s September 2, 2019 order adopting the central enactment can repeal the UP Public Services (Reservation For SC, ST and OBC) Act, 1994, requires consideration.” PTI CORR RAX RAX