Friday, August 7, 2015

Asst prof’s post not office of profit, MP can retain job: House panel

A Parliament joint committee has ruled that a Trinamool Congress MP, who is an assistant professor in a government-aided university, can hold both offices and avail salaries from both places.

In its draft report, the joint committee on offices of profit has stated that the office of the assistant professor in Visva Bharati University is not an office of profit.

This is contrary to the opinion of law ministry officials that it is an office of profit as it is “attached with remuneration in the form of pay”.

The joint’s committee’s report means that the MP, Anupam Hazra, will not have to take leave from the university. The report is expected to be tabled in Parliament next week. Sources said two members of the committee had expressed their dissent verbally.

Hazra, who was granted “extraordinary leave” for a year until June 1, had approached the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking statutory approval for continuing his teaching profession.

Explaining why the assistant professor’s post is not an office of profit, the report says: “University offices are not appointed by the government, but by the executive... The offices of visitor, chancellor, rector etc cannot be equated with the central or state government and they cannot be placed on the same footing.”

The panel, headed by BJP MP PP Chaudhary, has said it is “exercising abundant caution with regard to the supremacy of the Parliament to ensure that the university does not take any action that contravenes the authority of Parliament and ensure that the rights of the person mentioned in this matter are upheld.”

Earlier, law ministry officials pointed out that Hazra’s appointment was a permanent post, under pay band 3 (Rs15,600-39,100). They said the office of the assistant professor was a “subsisting, permanent, substantive position — which has an existence independent from the person who filled it... it has all the ingredients of an office and since it is attached with remuneration in the form of pay it would constitute an office of profit.”

HRD officials said a government servant is paid from the civil estimates of the government, and an assistant professor or professor of a university does not fit in this category.

In this connection, the panel has pointed out that all university staff draw their salaries and allowances from the varsity’s funds.

“The funds are contributed by the government through UGC. Hence the university and its offices do not draw any profit from the government,” says the report.

Once the decision is implemented by the university, Hazra will not be required to take on any additional responsibility other than teaching, and may not have to follow the condition that stipulates a particular number of working hours.

The panel referred to a DO letter dated September 10, 1974, that said, “...teachers who are either elected or nominated to the Parliament or state legislatures may not be required to resign their academic positions or to take long leave during the tenure of their membership”.

However, another DO issued to Vice Chancellors on March 6, 1987, said such teachers would be required to take leave of absence during their term, but they would not lose seniority .

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