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The case of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) v. Satchikitsa Prasarak Mandal & Ors


The case of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) v. Satchikitsa Prasarak Mandal & Ors[1] produces judgment in the area of unfair dismissal and sexual harassment. A fairly recent judgement by the hon’ble Supreme Court, the judgement concerns itself with the application of the doctrine of ejusdem generis and whether the jurisdiction of a disciplinary committee includes the respondents. It resolves the conflict between understanding the intention of the legislation and correcting the mischief that the statute aimed to counter.


The ex-lecturers, respondents 5 and 6, were working in the College, and respondent 2, run by Satchikitsa Prasarak Mandal, the prime respondent, was affiliated with MUHS, the appellant.

Respondent 5 represented MUHS on 7th August 2005 about her resignation being accepted on 6th August 2005 by the respondent College which she never sent in the first place. She has worked at the college in question for 3 and a half years and was the sole breadwinner in the family. The Vice Chancellor of MUHS was made aware in this representation that during her appointment the respondent college made her sign a resignation letter with no date mentioned on it. Meanwhile, respondents 5 and 6 had filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the principal and the vice principal, petitioners 3 & 4 on 19th January 2006 and 18th January 2006 respectively. The trust, Satchikitsa Prasarak Mandal, along with the college has called this an act of defamation by the respondents. Later, Respondent 6 forwarded a representation to the appellant University regarding sexual harassment at the workplace in February 2006.

In the period between representation to MUHS by Respondent 5 and the filing of a criminal complaint to representation by respondent 6 about sexual harassment, the appellant constituted a Grievance Committee[2], appellant 2, for inspection into the issues of respondent 5. The University issued notice for dismissing respondents 3 and 4, which was countered by the employer college stating that the MUHS has no authority to take such disciplinary actions. Meanwhile, MUHS froze its approval forwarded to respondents 3 and 4.

The prime respondent, Saatchikitsa Prasarak Mandal who runs the employer college, in the W.P. No. 1976 of 2006, contended against proceedings and recommendations of Grievance committee and the communication by Management Council, appellant 3, which has accepted the recommendations of respondent 2 and further recommended removal of college from affiliation. They have also contended that the appellant university has the power to freeze the approval of respondents 3 and 4.

The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay (Nagpur Bench) ruled that under the principle of “ejusdem generis”, the respondent is not a teacher as under the MUHS Act, 1998[3] and therefore, the Grievance Committee had no jurisdiction over the issues raised by them. Further on, the High Court has quashed the order by the appellant university about respondents 3 and 4 based on the allegation of respondents 5 and 6.


Whether the grievance committee had the jurisdiction to hear the grievances of “unapproved”[4] teachers?


Arguments forwarded by the Respondent/Petitioner Counsel:

The respondent counsel has put forward the contention that the Grievance Committee has no jurisdiction over the complaints of respondents 5 and 6 as the appellant University never approved of their appointment. Therefore, under the definition of teacher given in the MUHS Act, of 1998, they are not eligible to be called teachers. The jurisdiction of the Grievance committee extends to “teachers” as under the said Act.

Arguments forwarded by the Appellant Counsel:

The Appellant Counsel has contended that the definition of teachers not only includes the tutors, educators, lecturers, demonstrators, etc. which are approved of by the University but any person who is teaching or giving instructions in the affiliated college on a full-time basis. The respondents concerned might not have been approved by the University, but they were teaching full-time in the College. Respondent 5 had been teaching in the concerned college for 3 and a half years.

The Appellant has also forwarded the argument that the scope of the Grievance Committee extends beyond “teachers” to all other employees of the affiliated institutions as well.


The judgment was given by a 2-judge bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly. It overruled the decision of the High Court and ruled that the Grievance committee had jurisdiction to take up issues pertaining to concerned respondents. The Supreme Court also emphasized that the reinstatement of respondents 5 and 6

The High Court’s order was based on the principle of “ejusdem generis” which means if a generic term is followed by restricted words, the scope of the generic term in the statutory test should be restricted. The Supreme Court held that the principle applied by the High Court is erroneous based on the very fact that there is a contrary intention to it.

The Court has applied the mischief rule of interpretation to serve justice. The strictest meaning of the provision was not taken in by the court but rather the correction of the mischief and accordingly, the court should pass a decision not on the literal meaning of the statute but against the mischief the statute is trying to curb[5]. In this case, the Grievance Committee’s jurisdiction was interpreted by the court in such a sense as to ensure the presence of a statutory body to oversee that the rights of the employees are not injured.

The judges upheld the principles founded in the Maneka Gandhi case[6] that laid down the principle of “procedure established by law” and overturned the principle of “due process of law”. The law must be checked for arbitrariness and reasonableness. The act done by the Grievance Council under the MUHS Act is not arbitrary and done through a set procedure established by law. Further, it was to safeguard the principles established under the “golden triangle” of the Constitution.

The MUHS was also valid in its act when taken in light of the Vishakha Guidelines[7] as given by the Supreme Court in Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan[8].

This decision further supports the laws of natural justice, the doctrine against bias. For the affiliated college to deal with its grievances alone can lead to biases in favour of the institution itself. The voices of aggrieved employees will be shunned which will further injure the Freedom of Speech and Expression, that too by a government-affiliated body.

The judgement of this case served justice as it treated the class of employees as homogenous and not differentiating them on the basis of receiving approval from the Government Authority an institution is affiliated with. It has been used as a precedent in Rajendra Prasad Sharma & Ors. v/s State & Ors.[9] where the issue was related to the grievance of employees who were not against any aided sanctioned post of a non-aided Government Educational Institution despite getting selected by the same selection Committee. The differentiation for availing government benefits and schemes was arbitrary


The case of Maharashtra University of Health Science & Ors. v/s Satchikitsa Prasarak Mandal & Ors. dealt with the jurisdiction of a statutory body with respect to Government affiliated institutions and also showed the duty of the State to protect the interest of the vulnerable. The appeal to formally mark the jurisdiction of the Grievance Committee was important for safeguarding the rights of all employees in all the institutions affiliated with Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Nagpur University which are both Government bodies. It is important to understand that the gravity of this judgment extends far beyond the jurisdiction of a statutory body. The High Court had given orders for reinstating respondents 5 and 6 but the marking of jurisdiction would allow them a sense of safety and security against unfair dismissal, fraud, and sexual harassment. It also sets a precedent in employment rules and regulations with respect to non-arbitrariness and treatment with homogeneity.

Author(s) Name: Aastha Maurya


[1] (2010) 3 SCC 786

[2] MUHS Act, 1998, s. 53 states that there should be a grievance committee to deal with grievances of teachers and other employees of the institution and settle grievances with the institutions within 6 months. It further states that it is lawful for the committee to entertain grievances and recommend actions to the Management Council as it deems fit.

[3] Ss. 2 (35) of MUHS Act, 1998 describes a teacher as a full-time approved tutor, demonstrator, lecturer, reader, etc., and other persons teaching or giving instruction on a full-time basis in the affiliated colleges or approved institution.

[4] Unapproved here means teachers appointed by the affiliated college of MUHS who were not approved University.

[5] Re Sussex Peerage [1844]

[6] 1978 AIR 597


[8] AIR 1997 SC 3011

[9] 2013 SCC OnLine Raj 3942