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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

the constitutional validity of the University Grants Commission Regulations (Minimum Qualifications Required for the Appointment And Career Advancement of Teachers in Universities and Institutions affiliated to it) (the third Amendment) Regulation 2009 under which NET/SLET is to be the minimum eligibility condition for recruitment and appointment of Lecturers in Universities/Colleges/Institutions. The challenge was repelled saying that the Regulations do not violate Article 14 and are, in fact, prospective inasmuch as they apply only to appointments made after the date of the notification and do not apply to appointments made prior to that date. Along the lines of the Delhi High Court, the Madras and Rajasthan High Courts have also repelled challenges to the aforesaid regulations vide their judgments dated 6th December, 2010 and 13th September, 2012. On the other hand, the Allahabad High Court in a judgment dated 6th April, 2012 has found that the said regulations were issued pursuant to directions of the Central Government which themselves were issued outside the powers conferred by the UGC Act and, hence, the eligibility conditions laid down would not apply to M. Phil. and Ph.D. degrees awarded prior to 31st December, 2009. However, a subsequent judgment of the Allahabad High Court dated 6th January, 2014 distinguished the aforesaid judgment and upheld the self- same regulations. Whereas the Union of India is in appeal before us from the Allahabad High Court judgment dated 6th April, 2012, M.Phil. degree holders and Ph.D. degree holders who have not yet been appointed as Assistant Professors in any University/College/Institution are the appellants before us in all the other appeals.

                                                                  REPORTABLE




                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

             CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                 _________ OF 2015
            [ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NOS.36023-36032 OF 2010]


      P. SUSEELA & ORS. ETC. ETC.             ...APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

      UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION
      & ORS. ETC. ETC.                                   ...RESPONDENTS


                                    WITH

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                 __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.10247 OF 2011]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                 __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.14985 OF 2011]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                 __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.34196 OF 2012]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                      __OF 2015
              [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.36362-36364 OF 2012]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                      __OF 2015
              [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.38991-38992 OF 2012]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                      __OF 2015
                      [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.1529 OF 2013]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                      __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.1817 OF 2013]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                      __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.4619 OF 2013]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                      __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.4925 OF 2013]

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.                      __OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.17939 OF 2013]

                CONTEMPT PETITION (CIVIL) NOS.286-287 OF 2014
                                     IN
                        SLP (C) NOS.3054-3055 OF 2014


           CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                         __OF 2015
               [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.3054-3055 OF 2014]

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.___________ OF 2015
                  [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.3753 OF 2014]





                              J U D G M E N T

      R.F.Nariman, J.

      1.    Leave granted in all the special leave petitions.

      2.    A large number of appeals are before us in which  the  judgments
      of four High Courts are assailed.  The High  Court  of  Delhi  in  its
      judgment dated 6th December, 2010 was faced  with  the  constitutional
      validity of the  University  Grants  Commission  Regulations  (Minimum
      Qualifications Required for the Appointment And Career Advancement  of
      Teachers in Universities and Institutions affiliated to it) (the third
      Amendment) Regulation 2009 under which NET/SLET is to be  the  minimum
      eligibility condition for recruitment and appointment of Lecturers  in
      Universities/Colleges/Institutions. The challenge was repelled  saying
      that the Regulations do not violate  Article  14  and  are,  in  fact,
      prospective inasmuch as they apply only to appointments made after the
      date of the notification and do not apply to appointments  made  prior
      to that date.  Along the lines of the Delhi High Court, the Madras and
      Rajasthan High Courts have also repelled challenges to  the  aforesaid
      regulations vide their judgments dated 6th  December,  2010  and  13th
      September, 2012.  On the other hand, the Allahabad  High  Court  in  a
      judgment dated 6th April, 2012 has found  that  the  said  regulations
      were issued pursuant to directions of  the  Central  Government  which
      themselves were issued outside the powers conferred  by  the  UGC  Act
      and, hence, the eligibility conditions laid down would not apply to M.
      Phil.  and  Ph.D.  degrees  awarded  prior  to  31st  December,  2009.
      However, a subsequent judgment of the Allahabad High Court  dated  6th
      January, 2014 distinguished the aforesaid judgment and upheld the self-
      same regulations.  Whereas the Union of India is in appeal  before  us
      from the Allahabad High Court judgment dated 6th April, 2012,  M.Phil.
      degree holders  and  Ph.D.  degree  holders  who  have  not  yet  been
      appointed       as       Assistant       Professors       in       any
      University/College/Institution are the appellants before us in all the
      other appeals.




      3.    The facts necessary  to  appreciate  the  controversy  in  these
      appeals are as follows:-

      The University Grants Commission Act, 1956, was enacted by  Parliament
      to make provision for the coordination and determination of  standards
      in Universities being enacted under Entry 66 List I, Schedule  VII  to
      the Constitution of India. By Section  4  of  the  Act,  a  University
      Grants Commission is established to carry out the functions  entrusted
      to it by Section 12 of the Act.  We are directly  concerned  in  these
      appeals with two Sections of this Act, namely, Sections 20 and 26:-

           20. Directions by the Central Government.-(1) In  the  discharge
           of its functions under this Act, the Commission shall be  guided
           by such directions on questions of policy relating  to  national
           purposes as may be given to it by the Central Government.

           (2) If any dispute arises between the Central Government and the
           Commission as to whether a question is or is not a  question  of
           policy relating  to  national  purposes,  the  decision  of  the
           Central Government shall be final.

           26. Power to make  regulations.-(1)  The  Commission  may [,  by
           notification  in  the  Official   Gazette,]   make   regulations
           consistent with this Act and the rules made thereunder,-

           (a) regulating the meetings of the Commission and the  procedure
           for conducting business thereat;

           (b) regulating the manner in which and the  purposes  for  which
           persons may be associated with the Commission under Section 9;

           (c) specifying the  terms  and  conditions  of  service  of  the
           employees appointed by the Commission;

           (d) specifying the institutions or class of  institutions  which
           may be recognised by the Commission under clause (f) of  Section
           2;

           (e)  defining  the  qualifications  that  should  ordinarily  be
           required of any person to be appointed to the teaching staff  of
           the University, having regard to  the  branch  of  education  in
           which he is expected to give instruction;

           (f) defining the minimum standards of instruction for the  grant
           of any degree by any University;

           (g)  regulating  the  maintenance  of  standards  and  the   co-
           ordination of work or facilities in Universities.

           [(h) regulating the establishment of institutions referred to in
           clause (ccc) of Section 12 and other matters  relating  to  such
           institutions;

           (i) specifying the matters in  respect  of  which  fees  may  be
           charged, and scales of fees in accordance with which fees may be
           charged, by a college under sub-section (2) of Section 12-A;

           (j) specifying the manner in which an inquiry may  be  conducted
           under sub-section (4) of Section 12-A.]

           (2) No regulation shall be made under clause (a) or  clause  (b)
           or clause (c) or clause (d) [or clause  (h)  or  clause  (i)  or
           clause (j)] of sub-section (1) except with the previous approval
           of the Central Government.

           (3) The power to make  regulations  conferred  by  this  section
           [except clause (i) and clause  (j)  of  sub-section  (1)]  shall
           include the power to give retrospective effect from a  date  not
           earlier than the date  of  commencement  of  this  Act,  to  the
           regulations or any of them but no retrospective effect shall  be
           given to any  regulation  so  as  to  prejudicially  affect  the
           interests  of  any  person  to  whom  such  regulation  may   be
           applicable.




      4.    In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26(1)(e)  of  the
      said  Act,  the  UGC  framed  regulations  in  1982  prescribing   the
      qualification for  the  teaching  post  of  Lecturer  in  colleges  as
      follows:-

      "M. Phil. degree or a recognised degree beyond Master's level".

      In 1986, the Malhotra Committee was appointed by the  UGC  to  examine
      various features of University and College education.  It  recommended
      that there should be certain minimum qualifications laid down for  the
      post of Lecturer.  Pursuant to the  said  Committee  report,  the  UGC
      framed regulations  on  19th  September,  1991  superseding  the  1982
      regulations and providing apart from other qualifications, clearing of
      the NET as a test for eligibility  to  become  a  Lecturer.   Vide  an
      amendment dated 21st June, 1995, a  proviso  was  added  to  the  1991
      regulations by which candidates who have submitted their Ph.D.  thesis
      or passed the M. Phil. examination on or before  31st  December,  1993
      are exempted from the said eligibility test  for  appointment  to  the
      post of Lecturer.  This continued till  2002,  the  only  change  made
      being that the exemption continued qua Ph.D.  thesis holders for dates
      that were extended till 31st December, 2002.  This  state  of  affairs
      continued until 2008 when the Mungekar Committee submitted  its  final
      report recommending that NET should be made a  compulsory  requirement
      for appointment of Lecturer in addition to  the  candidate  possessing
      M.Phil. or Ph.D degrees.  On 12th November, 2008,  the  Department  of
      Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development,  Government
      of India, issued a directive under Section 22 of the UGC Act providing
      inter alia as under:-

           "UGC shall, for serving  the  national  purpose  of  maintaining
           standards of higher  education,  frame  appropriate  regulations
           within a period of thirty days from the date of  issue  of  this
           order prescribing that qualifying in NET/SLET shall generally be
           compulsory for all persons appointed to  teaching  positions  of
           Lecturer/Assistant  Professor  in  Higher  Education,  and  only
           persons who possess degree of Ph.D. after having been  enrolled/
           admitted to a programme notified by the Commission, after it has
           satisfied itself on the basis of expert opinion,  as  to  be  or
           have  always  been  in  conformity   with   the   procedure   of
           standardization of Ph.D. prescribed by it,  and  also  that  the
           degree of Ph.D. was  awarded  by  a  University  or  Institution
           Deemed to be University notified by the UGC  as  having  already
           complied with the procedure  prescribed  under  the  regulations
           framed by the Commission for the purpose."

      5.    In pursuance of the said  directive,  the  UGC  promulgated  the
      impugned Regulations of 2009, the 3rd Amendment of which  provides  as
      follows:-

           "NET/SLET shall remain the  minimum  eligibility  condition  for
           recruitment     and     appointment     of     Lecturers      in
           Universities/Colleges/ Institutions.

           Provided, however, that candidates, who are or have been awarded
           Ph.D. Degree in compliance of the "University Grants  Commission
           (minimum standards and procedure for  award  of  Ph.D.  Degree),
           Regulation 2009, shall be exempted from the requirement  of  the
           minimum eligibility condition of NET/SLET  for  recruitment  and
           appointment of Assistant Professor  or  equivalent  position  in
           Universities/Colleges/Institutions."




            The proviso referred to a number of new conditions  relating  to
      the maximum number of Ph.D. students  at  any  given  point  of  time,
      stringent admission criteria for a Ph.D. degree, research papers being
      published, the Ph.D. thesis being evaluated by at least  two  experts,
      one of whom shall be an expert from outside the State etc.

      6.    This was followed by another directive dated 30th March, 2010 by
      the Ministry under Section 20 of the Act directing the UGC as follows:-



           "The Ministry of Human Resource Development issued another order
           dated 30.3.2010  under  Section  20  of  the  University  Grants
           Commission Act, 1956 directing the UGC as follows:

           (i) That the UGC shall not take up specific cases for  exemption
           from the application of the NET Regulations of  2009  after  the
           said Regulations have  come  into  force,  for  either  specific
           persons or for a  specific  university/institution/college  from
           the  application  of  the  UGC   (Minimum   Qualifications   for
           appointment and career advancement of teachers  in  universities
           and colleges) 3rd Amendment Regulations, 2009 for appointment as
           Lecturer in universities/colleges/institutions;

           (ii) That appropriate amendment to the second proviso to  clause
           2 of the UGC Regulations 2000 shall be made by UGC to give  full
           effect to the policy directions issued by the Central Government
           dated 12th November, 2008, within 30 days from the date of issue
           of this direction; and

           (iii) That the decision taken by the UGC in it's  468th  meeting
           held on 23rd February, 2010 vide agenda item no. 6.04  and  6.05
           to grant specific exemptions from the applicability of NET shall
           not be implemented as being contrary to national policy.

           The above said  directions  shall  be  implemented  by  the  UGC
           forthwith."




      7.    Pursuant to this directive, on 30th June, 2010, the  UGC  framed
      Regulations of 2010, para 3.3.1 of which states:

           "3.3.1.  NET/SLET/SET  shall  remain  the  minimum   eligibility
           condition  for  recruitment   and   appointment   of   Assistant
           Professors in Universities/Colleges/Institutions.

           Provided however, that candidates, who are or have been  awarded
           a  Ph.D.  Degree  in  accordance  with  the  University   Grants
           Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award  of  Ph.D.
           Degree)  Regulations,  2009,  shall   be   exempted   from   the
           requirement of the minimum eligibility condition of NET/SLET/SET
           for  recruitment  and   appointment   of   Assistant   Professor
           equivalent positions in Universities/Colleges/ Institutions."




      8.    By two resolutions dated 12th August, 2010 and  27th  September,
      2010, the UGC opined that since the  regulations  are  prospective  in
      nature, all candidates having M. Phil. degree on or before 10th  July,
      2009 and all persons who obtained the Ph.D. degree on or  before  31st
      December, 2009 and had registered themselves for the Ph.D. before this
      date, but are awarded such degree subsequently shall  remain  exempted
      from the  requirement  of  NET  for  the  purpose  of  appointment  as
      Lecturer/Assistant Professor.

      9.    The Central Government, however, by letter dated  3rd  November,
      2010 informed the UGC that they were unable to agree with the decision
      of the Commission and stated that  consequently  a  candidate  seeking
      appointment to the post of Lecturer/Assistant Professor  must  fulfill
      the minimum qualifications prescribed by the UGC including the minimum
      eligibility condition of having passed the NET test.

      10.   Learned counsel assailing the Delhi, Madras and  Rajasthan  High
      Court  judgments  argued  that  Section  26(3)  expressly  entitles  a
      regulation to be prospective but so as not to prejudicially affect the
      interests of any person to whom such  regulation  may  be  applicable.
      They, therefore, argued that both under Article 14 as well as this sub-
      section, since all M.Phil.  and  Ph.D.  holders  had  been  repeatedly
      assured that they would be exempt from passing the NET  exam  if  they
      were such holders prior to 2009, the  regulations  should  not  be  so
      construed as to impose the burden of this examination upon them.  They
      further argued that under Section 26(2), regulations made in pursuance
      of Section 26(1)(e) and (g) do not require the  previous  approval  of
      the Central Government.  Consequently, the  impugned  regulations  are
      bad since they follow the dictate of the Central Government  which  is
      not  required.   Also,  this  would  show  that  when  it   comes   to
      qualifications of persons to be appointed to the teaching  staff,  the
      UGC  is  an  expert  body  to  whom  alone  such  qualifications   and
      consequently exemptions from such qualifications  should  be  left  to
      decide.  They also argued that there is a violation of Article  14  in
      that unequals have been treated equally as those who passed  their  M.
      Phil. and Ph.D. degrees prior to 2009 fell in a separate  class  which
      had an intelligible differentia from those who did not so fall as  has
      been maintained by the UGC from time to time.   They  strongly  relied
      upon the judgment of this Court in  University  Grants  Commission  v.
      Sadhana Chaudhary (1996) 10 SCC 536 for this proposition  as  well  as
      the proposition that their legitimate expectation  in  the  matter  of
      appointment on the post of Lecturer had been done away with.

      11.   On the other hand, learned counsel for the Union  of  India  and
      the UGC stressed the fact that under Section 26 regulations have to be
      made consistently with the Act and Section 20 is very much part of the
      Act.  Therefore, if directions on questions of policy are made by  the
      Central Government, regulations must  necessarily  be  subordinate  to
      such directions.  It was also pointed out that if a question arises as
      to whether a subject matter  is  a  question  of  policy  relating  to
      national purposes, the decision of the  Central  Government  shall  be
      final.  They then relied upon Udai  Singh  Dagar  v.  Union  of  India
      (2007) 10 SCC 306, for the proposition that a  person  will  have  the
      right  to  enter  a  profession  only  if  he  holds   the   requisite
      qualification  and  the  holding  of  such  qualification   would   be
      prospective if it is a qualification  which  is  laid  down  any  time
      before his entry into a profession.

      12.   It is clear that Section  26  enables  the  Commission  to  make
      regulations only if  they  are  consistent  with  the  UGC  Act.  This
      necessarily means that such regulations must conform to Section 20  of
      the Act and under Section 20 of the  Act  the  Central  Government  is
      given the power to give directions on questions of policy relating  to
      national purposes which shall guide the Commission in the discharge of
      its functions under the Act. It is clear,  therefore,  that  both  the
      directions of 12th November, 2008 and 30th March, 2010 are  directions
      made pertaining to questions of policy relating to  national  purposes
      inasmuch as, being based on the Mungekar Committee Report, the Central
      Government felt that a common uniform  nationwide  test  should  be  a
      minimum eligibility condition for recruitment for the  appointment  of
      Lecturer/Assistant Professors  in  Universities/Colleges/Institutions.
      This is for the obvious reason that M. Phil. degrees or Ph.D.  degrees
      are granted by different  Universities/Institutions  having  differing
      standards of excellence.  It is quite possible to conceive of  M.Phil/
      Ph.D. degrees being granted by several Universities which did not have
      stringent standards of excellence.  Considering as a matter of  policy
      that  the  appointment  of  Lecturers/  Assistant  Professors  in  all
      institutions governed by the UGC Act (which are institutions all  over
      the country), the need  was  felt  to  have  in  addition  a  national
      entrance test as a minimum eligibility condition being  an  additional
      qualification which has become necessary in view of  wide  disparities
      in the granting of M. Phil./ Ph.D. degrees  by  various  Universities/
      Institutions.  The object sought to be achieved by these directions is
      clear:  that  all  Lecturers   in   Universities/Colleges/Institutions
      governed by the UGC Act should have  a  certain  minimum  standard  of
      excellence before they are appointed as such.   These  directions  are
      not only made in exercise of powers under Section 20 of  the  Act  but
      are made to provide for coordination and  determination  of  standards
      which lies at the very core of the UGC Act.  It is  clear,  therefore,
      that any regulation made under Section 26 must conform  to  directions
      issued by the Central Government under Section 20 of the Act.

      13.   It was argued that since the previous approval  of  the  Central
      Government  was  not  necessary  for  regulations  which  define   the
      qualifications required of persons to be  appointed  to  the  teaching
      staff of a University, the Government has no  role  to  play  in  such
      matters and cannot dictate to the Commission.  This argument does  not
      hold water for the simple reason that it ignores the opening lines  of
      Section  26(1)  which  states  that  the  Commission  can  only   make
      regulations consistent with the  Act,  which  brings  in  the  Central
      Government's power under Section 20  of  the  Act,  a  power  that  is
      independent of sub-section (2) of Section 26.  A  regulation  may  not
      require the previous approval of the Central Government  and  may  yet
      have to be in conformity with a direction issued under Section  20  of
      the Act.  In fact, even where a regulation can only be made  with  the
      previous approval of the Central Government,  the  Central  Government
      would have a role to play both before  and  after  the  regulation  is
      made.  In the first case, it would accord its previous approval to the
      regulation.  Once the regulation becomes law, it may issue  directions
      under Section 20 pursuant to which the very same regulation  may  have
      to be modified or done away with to conform to such direction.  It  is
      clear, therefore, that Section 26(2) would not stand in the way of the
      directions issued in the present case by the Central Government to the
      Commission.

      14.   The other interesting argument made  is  that  such  regulations
      should not be given retrospective effect so as to prejudicially affect
      the interests of any person to whom such regulation may be applicable.
        In  order  to  appreciate  this  contention,  it  is  necessary   to
      distinguish between an  existing  right  and  a  vested  right.   This
      distinction was made with great felicity in Trimbak Damodhar Rajpurkar
      v. Assaram Hiraman Patil, 1962 Suppl. 1  SCR  700.   In  that  case  a
      question arose as to whether an amendment made to  Section  5  of  the
      Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Amendment Act could be  said  to
      be retrospective because its operation took within its sweep  existing
      rights.  A bench of five  Hon'ble  Judges  of  this  Court  held  that
      Section 5 had no retrospective operation.  This Court held:

           "Besides, it is necessary to bear in mind that the right of  the
           appellant to eject the  respondents  would  arise  only  on  the
           termination of the tenancy, and in the  present  case  it  would
           have been available to him on March 31, 1953  if  the  statutory
           provision had not in the meanwhile  extended  the  life  of  the
           tenancy. It is true  that  the  appellant  gave  notice  to  the
           respondents on March 11, 1952 as he was then no  doubt  entitled
           to do; but his right as a landlord to obtain possession did  not
           accrue merely on the giving of the notice,  it  accrued  in  his
           favour on the date when the lease expired. It is only after  the
           period specified in the notice is over and the  tenancy  has  in
           fact expired that the landlord gets a right to eject the  tenant
           and obtain possession of the land. Considered from this point of
           view, before the right accrued to the  appellant  to  eject  the
           respondents amending Act 33 of 1952 stepped in and deprived  him
           of that right by requiring him  to  comply  with  the  statutory
           requirement as to a valid notice  which  has  to  be  given  for
           ejecting tenants.
                 In this connection it is relevant to  distinguish  between
           an existing right and a vested right. Where a  statute  operates
           in future it cannot be said to be retrospective  merely  because
           within the sweep  of  its  operation  all  existing  rights  are
           included.  As  observed  by  Buckley,  L.J.  in West v. Gwynne [
           (1911) 2 Ch 1 at pp  11,  12]  retrospective  operation  is  one
           matter and interference with existing rights is another. "If  an
           Act provides that as at a past date the law shall  be  taken  to
           have been that which it was not, that Act  I  understand  to  be
           retrospective. That is not  this  case.  The  question  here  is
           whether a certain provision as to  the  contents  of  leases  is
           addressed to the case of all leases or  only  of  some,  namely,
           leases executed after the passing of the Act. The question is as
           to the ambit and scope of the Act, and not as  to  the  date  as
           from which the new law, as enacted by the Act, is to be taken to
           have been the law." These observations were made in dealing with
           the question as to the retrospective construction of  Section  3
           of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, 1892 (55 & 56 Vict.
           c. 13). In substance Section  3  provided  that  in  all  leases
           containing a covenant, condition or agreement against assigning,
           underletting, or parting with the possession,  or  disposing  of
           the land or property leased without  licence  or  consent,  such
           covenant,  condition  or  agreement  shall,  unless  the   lease
           contains an expressed provision to the contrary, be deemed to be
           subject to a proviso to the effect that no fine or sum of  money
           in the nature of a fine shall be payable for or  in  respect  of
           such licence or consent. It was held that the provisions of  the
           said section applied to all leases whether  executed  before  or
           after the commencement of the Act; and,  according  to  Buckley,
           L.J., this construction did not make the  Act  retrospective  in
           operation; it merely affected in future  existing  rights  under
           all leases whether executed before or after the date of the Act.
           The position in regard to the operation of Section 5(1)  of  the
           amending Act with which we are concerned appears  to  us  to  be
           substantially similar.

                  A similar question had been raised for  the  decision  of
           this  Court  in Jivabhai  Purshottam v. Chhagan  Karson [  Civil
           Appeal No 153 of 1958 decided on 27-3-1961]  in  regard  to  the
           retrospective operation of Section 34(2)(a) of the said amending
           Act 33 of 1952 and this Court has approved of  the  decision  of
           the  Full  Bench  of  the  Bombay  High  Court  on  that   point
           in Durlabbha Fakirbhai v. Jhaverbhai Bhikabhai [ (1956)  58  BLR
           85] . It was held in Durlabbhai case [ (1956) 58  BLR  85]  that
           the relevant provision of the amending Act would  apply  to  all
           proceedings where the period of notice  had  expired  after  the
           amending Act had come into force and  that  the  effect  of  the
           amending Act was no more than this that it  imposed  a  new  and
           additional limitation on the right of  the  landlord  to  obtain
           possession from his tenant. It was  observed  in  that  judgment
           that "a notice under Section 34(1) is merely  a  declaration  to
           the tenant of the intention of the  landlord  to  terminate  the
           tenancy; but it is always open to the landlord not to carry  out
           his intention. Therefore, for the application of the restriction
           under sub-section 2(a) on the right of the landlord to terminate
           the tenancy, the crucial date is not the date of notice but  the
           date on which the right to terminate matures; that is  the  date
           on which the tenancy stands terminated".



      15.   Similar is the case on facts here.  A vested right  would  arise
      only if any of the appellants before us had actually been appointed to
      the post of Lecturer/Assistant Professors. Till that date, there is no
      vested right in any of the appellants.  At the highest, the appellants
      could only contend that they have a right to  be  considered  for  the
      post of Lecturer/Assistant Professor.  This right is always subject to
      minimum eligibility conditions, and till such time as  the  appellants
      are appointed, different conditions may  be  laid  down  at  different
      times.  Merely because an additional eligibility condition in the form
      of a NET test is laid down, it does not mean that any vested right  of
      the appellants is affected, nor  does  it  mean  that  the  regulation
      laying down such minimum eligibility condition would be  retrospective
      in operation.  Such condition would only be prospective  as  it  would
      apply only at the stage of appointment.  It is clear, therefore,  that
      the contentions of the private appellants before us must fail.

      16.   One of the learned counsel for the petitioners argued, based  on
      the language of the direction of the  Central  Government  dated  12th
      November, 2008 that all that the Government wanted the UGC to  do  was
      to "generally" prescribe NET as a qualification.   But  this  did  not
      mean that UGC had to prescribe this  qualification  without  providing
      for any exemption.  We are unable to accede to this argument  for  the
      simple reason that the word "generally" precedes the word "compulsory"
      and it is clear that the language of the direction has  been  followed
      both in letter and in spirit by the UGC regulations of 2009 and 2010.

      17.   The arguments based on Article 14 equally have to  be  rejected.
      It is  clear  that  the  object  of  the  directions  of  the  Central
      Government read with the UGC regulations of 2009/2010 are to  maintain
      excellence in standards of higher education.  Keeping this  object  in
      mind,  a  minimum  eligibility  condition  of  passing  the   national
      eligibility test is laid down.  True, there may have  been  exemptions
      laid down by the UGC in the past, but the Central Government now as  a
      matter of  policy  feels  that  any  exemption  would  compromise  the
      excellence   of   teaching   standards    in    Universities/Colleges/
      Institutions  governed  by  the  UGC.   Obviously,  there  is  nothing
      arbitrary or discriminatory in this  - in fact it is a  core  function
      of the UGC to see that such standards do not get diluted.



      18.   The doctrine of legitimate expectation has been  dealt  with  in
      two judgments of this Court as follows:
      In Union of India v. International Trading Company (2003) 5  SCC  437,
      it was held:
           "23. Reasonableness of restriction is to  be  determined  in  an
           objective manner and from the standpoint  of  interests  of  the
           general public and not from the standpoint of the  interests  of
           persons upon whom the restrictions have  been  imposed  or  upon
           abstract consideration. A  restriction  cannot  be  said  to  be
           unreasonable  merely  because  in  a  given  case,  it  operates
           harshly.  In  determining  whether  there  is   any   unfairness
           involved;  the  nature  of  the  right  alleged  to  have   been
           infringed, the underlying purpose of  the  restriction  imposed,
           the extent and  urgency  of  the  evil  sought  to  be  remedied
           thereby, the disproportion of  the  imposition,  the  prevailing
           condition at the relevant time, enter into judicial verdict. The
           reasonableness  of  the  legitimate  expectation   has   to   be
           determined with respect to the  circumstances  relating  to  the
           trade or business in  question.  Canalisation  of  a  particular
           business in favour of even a specified individual is  reasonable
           where the interests of the country are concerned  or  where  the
           business affects  the  economy  of  the  country.  (See Parbhani
           Transport    Coop.    Society     Ltd. v. Regional     Transport
           Authority [AIR 1960 SC 801 : 62 Bom LR  521]  , Shree  Meenakshi
           Mills Ltd. v. Union of India [(1974) 1 SCC 468  :  AIR  1974  SC
           366] , Hari Chand Sarda v. Mizo District  Council [AIR  1967  SC
           829] and Krishnan Kakkanth v. Govt. of Kerala [(1997) 9 SCC  495
           : AIR 1997 SC 128]."




      19.   Similarly, in Sethi Auto Service Station v.  DDA  (2009)  1  SCC
      180, it was held:-
           "33. It  is  well  settled  that  the  concept   of   legitimate
           expectation has no role to play where the State action is  as  a
           public policy or in the public interest unless the action  taken
           amounts to an abuse of power.  The  court  must  not  usurp  the
           discretion of the public authority which is  empowered  to  take
           the decisions under law and the court is expected  to  apply  an
           objective standard which leaves to the  deciding  authority  the
           full range of choice which the legislature is presumed  to  have
           intended. Even in a case where the decision is left entirely  to
           the discretion of the deciding authority without any such  legal
           bounds and if the decision is taken fairly and objectively,  the
           court will not interfere on the ground of procedural fairness to
           a person whose interest based on legitimate expectation might be
           affected. Therefore, a legitimate expectation can at the most be
           one of the grounds which may give rise to  judicial  review  but
           the granting of  relief  is  very  much  limited.(Vide Hindustan
           Development Corpn.  [(1993) 3 SCC 499]"



      20.   In University Grants Commission v. Sadhana Chaudhary  (1996)  10
      SCC, 536, it is true that in paragraph 22, some of the very appellants
      before us are referred to as having a legitimate  expectation  in  the
      matter   of   appointment    to    the    post    of    Lecturer    in
      Universities/Colleges,    but  that  case   would   have   no   direct
      application here.  There a challenge was made to exemptions granted at
      that time to Ph.D. holders and M. Phil. degree holders.  It was  found
      that such exemption had a rational relation to the object sought to be
      achieved at that  point  of  time,  being  based  on  an  intelligible
      differentia.  An Article 14  challenge  to  the  said  exemption  was,
      therefore, repelled.  Even  assuming  that  the  said  judgment  would
      continue to apply  even  after  the  2009  Regulations,  a  legitimate
      expectation must always yield to  the  larger  public  interest.   The
      larger public interest in the present case is nothing less than having
      highly qualified Assistant Professors to teach  in  UGC  Institutions.
      Even if, therefore, the private appellants before us had a  legitimate
      expectation that given the fact that the UGC granted them an exemption
      from the NET  and  continued  to  state  that  such  exemption  should
      continue to be granted even after the  Government  direction  of  12th
      November, 2008 would have to yield to the larger  public  interest  of
      selection of  the  most  meritorious  among  candidates  to  teach  in
      Institutions governed by the UGC Act.



      21.   The Allahabad High Court in its judgment dated 6th  April,  2012
      has held as follows:

           "104. CONCLUSIONS:

           1. The Central Government,  in  exercise  of  its  powers  under
           Section 20 (1) of UGC Act, 1956, does  not  possess  powers  and
           authority to set aside  or  annul  the  recommendations  of  the
           University Grants Commission, and the  regulations  made  by  it
           under Section 26 (1) (e) of the Act defining the  qualification,
           that should ordinarily be required to be possessed by any person
           to be appointed to the teaching posts  of  the  University,  for
           which under Section 26 (2) of the UGC Act,  1956,  the  previous
           approval of the Central Government is not required.

           2. The exemptions given by UGC to those, who were  awarded  Ph.D
           degrees prior  to  31.12.2009  before  the  enforcement  of  the
           Regulations of 2009, is not a question  of  policy  relating  to
           national purpose on which  the  Central  Government  could  have
           issued directions under Section 20 (1) of the UGC Act, 1956.

           3. The UGC is an expert body  constituted  with  specialists  in
           laying down standards and  for  promotion  and  coordination  of
           University education. The recommendations  made  by  it  in  the
           matters of qualifications and the  limited  exemptions  of  such
           qualifications for  appointment  for  teachers  in  Universities
           taken after constituting expert Committees and considering their
           recommendations is not subject to supervision and control by the
           Central Government. The Central Government  in  the  matters  of
           laying down minimum qualifications for appointment  of  teachers
           in the University, does not possess any supervisory  powers,  to
           annul the resolutions of UGC.

           4. The Ph.D holders, who were  awarded  Ph.D  degrees  prior  to
           31.12.2009,  cannot  be  said  to  have  legitimate  expectation
           maturing into any right to  be  considered  for  appointment  on
           teaching  posts  in  the  University,  without   obtaining   the
           NET/SLET/SET qualifications, unless the UGC has provided for any
           exemptions.

           5. The resolution on agenda item no. 6.04 and 6.05 in the  468th
           meeting of the UGC held on 23.2.2010, and the resolution of  UGC
           in its 471st meeting on agenda item  no.  2.08  dated  12.8.2010
           recommending the 3rd Amendments to the Regulations of 2009 to be
           prospective in nature, is binding on the Universities  including
           the University of Allahabad.

           6. The petitioners were awarded Ph.D degrees in  the  year  2009
           and in the year 2003 respectively prior to  enforcement  of  the
           3rd Amendment in the  regulations,  which  came  into  force  on
           31.12.2009, and thus they are eligible, even  if  they  are  not
           NET/SLET/SET qualified, if they have been  awarded  Ph.D  degree
           with any six conditions out of 11 recommended by the  UGC  prior
           to 31.12.2009.

           The writ petition is allowed. The petitioners are held  eligible
           for consideration for appointment as Lecturer for guest  faculty
           in the Department of Sanskrit of the University,  provided  they
           satisfy any of the six tests out of eleven,  laid  down  by  the
           UGC, and which are made essential for award of Ph.D degree under
           the 3rd Amendment of the Regulations of 2009. It will be open to
           the University to consider from the  material  produced  by  the
           petitioners,  that  they  satisfy  six  out  of   eleven   tests
           recommended by the University Grants  Commission  for  award  of
           their Ph.D."




      22.   We have already pointed out how the directions  of  the  Central
      Government under Section 20 of the UGC Act  pertain  to  questions  of
      policy relating to national purpose. We have also pointed out that the
      regulation making power is  subservient  to  directions  issued  under
      Section 20 of the Act. The fact that the UGC is an  expert  body  does
      not take the matter any further.   The UGC Act contemplates that  such
      expert body will have to act in accordance with directions  issued  by
      the Central Government.

      23.   The Allahabad High Court adverted to an expert  committee  under
      the Chairmanship of Professor S.P. Thyagarajan which laid down that if
      six out of eleven criteria laid down by the  Committee  was  satisfied
      when such University granted a Ph.D. degree, then  such  Ph.D.  degree
      should be  sufficient  to  qualify  such  person  for  appointment  as
      Lecturer/Assistant Professor  without  the  further  qualification  of
      having to pass the NET test. The UGC itself does not  appear  to  have
      given effect to this  recommendation  of  the  Thyagarajan  Committee.
      However, the High  Court  thought  it  fit  to  give  effect  to  this
      Committee's recommendation in the final directions issued by it.  When
      the UGC itself has  not  accepted  the  recommendations  of  the  said
      Committee, we do not understand how the  High  Court  sought  to  give
      effect  to  such  recommendations.   We,  therefore,  set  aside   the
      Allahabad High Court judgment dated 6th April, 2012 in its entirety.

      24.   In SLP (C) NO.3054-3055/2014, a judgment of the same High  Court
      dated 6th January, 2014 again by  a  Division  Bench  arrived  at  the
      opposite conclusion.  This is also  a  matter  which  causes  us  some
      distress.  A Division Bench judgment of the same High Court is binding
      on a subsequent Division Bench.  The  subsequent  Division  Bench  can
      either follow it or refer  such  judgment  to  the  Chief  Justice  to
      constitute a Full Bench if it differs with it.  We do  not  appreciate
      the manner in which this subsequent  judgment,  (even  though  it  has
      reached the right result) has dealt with an earlier  binding  Division
      Bench judgment of the same High Court. In fact, as was pointed out  to
      us by learned counsel for the  appellants,  the  distinction  made  in
      paragraph 20 between the facts of the earlier judgment and  the  facts
      in the later judgment is not a distinction at all.   Just  as  in  the
      2012 judgment Ph.D. degrees had been awarded prior to  2009,  even  in
      the 2014 judgment Ph.D. degrees with which that judgment was concerned
      were also granted prior to 2009.  There is, therefore, no  distinction
      between the facts of the two cases.  What is even more distressing  is
      that only sub para 4 of the conclusion in the 2012 judgment is set out
      without any of the other sub paragraphs  of  Paragraph  104  extracted
      above to arrive at a result which is the exact opposite of the earlier
      judgment.  This judgment is also set aside only for the reason that it
      did not follow an earlier binding judgment. This  will,  however,  not
      impact the fact that the writ petitions in the 2014 judgment have been
      dismissed.  They stand dismissed having regard to the reasoning in the
      judgment delivered by  us  today.   In  view  of  this  pronouncement,
      nothing survives in Contempt Petition Nos. 286-287 of 2014  which  are
      disposed of as having become infructuous. The other appeals  from  the
      Delhi, Madras  and  Rajasthan  High  Courts  are,  consequently,  also
      dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

                                              .........................J.
                                              (T.S. Thakur)






                                              .........................J.
                                              (R.F. Nariman)


      New Delhi;
      March 16, 2015.


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