Restraining order on acceptance of resignation letters extended

Resignation of University Dept heads

By Chitra Weerarathne

The Court of Appeal yesterday extended, till July 1, 2011, the stay order, which restrained the University Authorities from accepting the letters of resignation submitted by Heads of Departments of the Ruhuna, Wayamba and Sri Jayewardenepura Universities.

The stay order will restrain the Heads of Departments from keeping off official duties.

The Court yesterday regularized the earlier stay order upto June 10, 2011 and extended it up to July 1, 2011. The notice issued on the respondent Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, the University Grants Commission and the Heads of Departments of the Ruhuna, Sri Jayewardenepura and Wayamba Universities is returnable on June 30, 2011.

M. A. Sumanthiran, appearing for the respondents said that when the Heads of Departments submit their resignation, they remain resigned, immediately. He said that the resigned Deans and Heads of Department cannot be forced to stay in office. He said that the stay order restraining the authorities from accepting the resignation was unfair, since the respondents were not noticed, thus, they were not noticed that the stay order could not be for more than 14 days.

He cited a Supreme Court determination which had said that you cannot force Deans, who have submitted resignations, to hold on to office. The respondents had filed a motion objecting to the stay order, which restrained the authorities from accepting the resignation. They said they were not noticed and heard.

Faiz Mustapha PC, appeared for the student who had petitioned the Court against the attempt of the Heads of Departments to resign.

He referred to Section 51 of the Universities Act, which says that a Head of a Department will remain in office for three years, unless removed or retired on schedule.

He said the students should not be held to ransom and the stay order was impeccable. The jurisdiction of the Court should not be eroded and there were no time constraints on the Court, he said.

Sanjeewa Jayawardene, associated his submissions with Mustapha’s. He said that a resignation is effective only if it is accepted. A resignation could not be unilateral. The orchestrated system to collapse the university system could not be allowed and should be prohibited by the Court. The stay order was perfect and defendable, he said. It should be extended, he said.

Counsel Maduranga Ratnayake said that the respondents had failed to place sufficient reasons to show why the interim order should be lifted. The petitioner was entitled to have the interim order extended till the final determination of the Writ Application.

The Bench comprised Justice Sathya Hettige (President) and Justice Upali Abeyratne.

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