The Punjab and Haryana High Court made it clear that Dr Kamlesh Kumar Bhutani, officiating director of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) at Mohali and the institute’s other scientists – Dr AK Chakraborti, Dr BP Singh and Dr R Kartha – can continue to serve the institute till they are 65-year-old. The decision came from the court headed by Justice Paramjeet Singh Dhaliwal while allowing the two petitions challenging a March 2 order issued by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers (Department of Pharma-ceuticals) to relieve them from their posts since they were serving even after completion of 60 years of age. Earlier on March 11, the High Court had put a stay on the central government’s order.
The court said that NIPER being an autonomous body, there was nothing illegal in the decision taken by its governing body to increase the retirement age to 65 years. While pronouncing the judgment in the case, Justice Dhaliwal also dismissed a petition filed by another scientist of NIPER, Dr. Pariskshit Bansal, challenging Dr. Bhutani’s appointment. However, a detailed judgment is awaited. It was on February 12 that the CBI had booked Dr. Bhutani and six other officials of NIPER on charges of corruption and forgery after conducting raids at various locations across the country. It has been alleged that the funds granted to NIPER were diverted and used for other purposes. The Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers had on March 2 directed the NIPER Registrar to relieve all the employees who have attained 60 years of age. Thereafter, Professor Saranjit Singh had on March 8 took over as the officiating director of NIPER. But after the High Court had on March 11 stayed the order, Dr. Bhutani took over the charge.
In his petition, Dr. Bhutani had submitted that as per the decision of the Board of Governors on February 9, 1999, it was decided to enhance the superannuation age of teaching staff from 60 to 62 years. Later on March 23, 2013, the Board of Governors again enhanced the age of superannuation of the teaching staff from 62 to 65 years and this decision still stands. The court was informed that there is no authority under the Act and Statutes to set aside the decision of the Board of Governors by the central government. It was submitted that the central government has no jurisdiction to direct the NIPER registrar to relieve the petitioner prior to the age of 65 years. However, in his pending petition Dr. Bansal had submitted that for last 15 years, all NIPER teaching staff was being issued appointment letters indicating the retirement age as 62 years. But in 2013, just one month ahead of Dr. Bhutani’s retirement, he himself as member of the Board of Governors increased the retirement age from 62 to 65 years, Dr. Bansal had submitted.