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Gujarat HC: Private Institutions Not Considered as ‘State’ Under Article 12 of Constitution

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Aastha Thakur

Published on August 08th August 2022 at 18:42 IST

The Gujarat High Court has rejected a writ application filed by an Assistant Professor against the Sabarmati University, a private university seeking intervention for the reinstatement with full backwages and benefits.

The Single Judge Bench Justice Bhargav Karia clarified that the dispute regarding termination comes under the realm of a private contract and therefore, held:

“ …if at all there is an alleged arbitrary action on the part of the respondent, the same would give cause to the petitioner to initiate civil action before the Civil Court but in the facts of the present case, the writ petition against the private educational institution governed by the Gujarat Private Universities Act, 2009 would not be maintainable.”

The Petitioner has given three months termination notice starting August 2013, allegedly without any reason. Thereafter she filed application before the Gujarat Affiliated Colleges Service Tribunal, next she withdrew the application only to file the writ before the High Court.

The Respondent counsel representative of University submitted the writ filed is not maintainable as the University is private institution and not fall within the term ‘State’ as per Article 12 of the constitution. Additionally, the employment conditions of the Petitioner would not bring her services within the realm of ‘public function or duty.’

The Petitioner however, argued back that University was established under the

Gujarat Private Universities Act, 2009. Further, Universities were established to provide good quality of educations to student and higher education to students, hence it was performing a public duty.

The State Government had direct and pervasive control over the functioning of it as was mentioned in Sec 31-35 of Chapter VI of the Act.

Examining the submissions of both sides, the Ld. Judge Karia put forward the landmark judgement of Mukesh Bhavarlal Bhandari and Ors vs. Dr. Nagesh Bhandari and ors and reiterated that, “Merely because the activity of the said research institute ensures to the benefit of the Indian public, it cannot be a guiding factor to determine the character of the Institute and bring the same within the sweep of ‘public function or public duty.”

The Court further agreed with the contentions of respondents and opined that the termination of the petitioner does fall under the contractual agreement of private nature.

It observed, “It is, therefore, not necessary to go into the merits of the case with regard to the issue of show-cause notice for providing an opportunity of hearing resulting into breach of principle of natural justice and whether the action of the respondent University is unfair or not because all such disputes essentially are in the realm of private contract…”

Accordingly the Court decided to dismiss the writ petition.