High Court upholds government notification on gratuity for teachers

High Court upholds  government notification on gratuity for teachers

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday upheld the government notification, issued in 2009, amending the Payment of Gratuity Act 1952 to extend gratuity cover for teachers retrospectively from the year 1997.  

The court dismissed the petition, by Ambedkar Medical College and others, challenging the amendment.

Hearing the petition, Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri directed the authorities concerned to release the amount deposited by the institutions as a precondition for appealing against the notification and give the same to the teachers.

The court, while dismissing the petition, allowed the contentions of the Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) Krishna Dixit that Gujarat and Bombay High Court have upheld the validity of the amendment to the Act and the Parliament has powers to make such law. 

Section 2 (e) of the Payment of Gratuity Act 1952, which mentions about the list of beneficiaries was amended in 1997 to include the teachers including those in medical colleges in this.

The amendment was challenged in the Gujarat High Court, which ruled that the teachers cannot be covered under gratuity as it applies only to the skilled and unskilled labourers of the Industries. An SLP, challenging this was filed before the Supreme Court by the Gujarat teachers’ association.

The same was dismissed in the year 2004 with observation that this judgment will not come in the way of Parliament, if it amends the law and extends the gratuity to the teachers. 

The Parliament, based on Supreme Court observations,  brought in an amendment and introduced Section 13 (A) in the Act.  Accordingly the notification was issued directing the educational institutions to provide gratuity to the teachers, retrospectively from the year 1997, when the amendment was made for the first time. 

The petitioners, challenging it, contended that they cannot implement it retrospectively as it would inflict financial burden on them. They also said that the Parliament has no powers to make law with retrospective effect.

Stating that the law as unreasonable and atrocious, they sought to set aside the amendment. 

ASG Dixit, citing an American Constitution expert, contended that even if the law is unreasonable and atrocious, it cannot be a ground to set aside the same. He further contended that the Parliament has powers to make law with retrospective effect. 

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