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40 per cent of lecturer posts vacant in colleges

Monday 10 April 2006, by SUBRAMANI*A.

Appointment of guest lecturers barred

High Court flayed practice of appointing lecturers on contract or hourly payment basis It admonished Government for paying "paltry" remuneration to lecturers Terming recruitment improper, it refused to regularise services of ad hoc lecturers

CHENNAI: When Government arts and science colleges in Tamil Nadu reopen in June, about 40 per cent of the lecturer posts will lie vacant.

The Government, which has not invited applications to these regular posts, can neither appoint new guest lecturers nor renew the services of existing guest or ad hoc lecturers.

The reason? Flaying the practice of appointing lecturers on contract basis or hourly payment basis, the Madras High Court, on July 18, 2005, had barred Government from continuing the decade-old practice. "No guest lecturers or ad hoc lecturers will be appointed or continued after March 31, 2006," the then First Bench comprising Chief Justice Markandey Katju and Justice F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla ruled.

Paltry remuneration

In 1995-96, when the guest lecturer concept was introduced, they were paid Rs. 50 per hour, subject to the maximum of Rs. 2,400 a month.

In 1997-98, the remuneration was hiked to Rs. 80 per hour, with a ceiling of Rs. 3,200 a month. From 2001-02 onwards, the per-hour fee has been Rs. 100, and it shall not exceed Rs. 4,000.

Admonishing the Government for paying such "paltry" remuneration to lecturers, the High Court said: "This is demeaning to the lecturers who are treated almost like casual or daily wage employees and are given remuneration on an hourly basis, that too without even giving them any formal appointment orders. What interests will they take in their work and what commitment will they have? There is no security of tenure and they are paid a paltry sum up to a maximum of Rs. 4,000. Even a peon in Government service often gets more than Rs. 4,000 per month."

Qualified candidates

At the same time, pointing out that their recruitment was improper, the court declined to order regularisation of services of ad hoc lecturers. College principals recruited them without ensuring adequate qualifications prescribed by the University Grants Commission. The court said from March 31, 2006, onwards all vacancies in Government colleges must be filled only by qualified candidates, with full UGC payscale.

Today, as against the sanctioned strength of 4,966 teacher vacancies in 67 Government colleges, 1,763 are lying vacant (see chart).

Since 2002, the number of regular vacancies as well as the number of guest lecturers is spiralling.

Clarification petition

The State Government, citing financial commitments involved in appointing a large number of lecturers with full UGC-stipulated pay and perks, preferred a clarification petition before the First Bench, which is now headed by Mr.Justice Katju’s successor Justice A.P.Shah. The Bench has appointed senior counsel K.Chandru as amicus curiae to assist the court.

Now, the Government cites the Tamil Nadu Universities Laws Amendment Act 2004 and says these colleges are now the constituent institutions of the universities concerned.

But, with no corresponding increase in budgetary support, how can the universities handle the additional financial burden, asks Mr.Chandru.

See online : The Hindu

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