Prof. Wickramasinghe v University of Sri Jayawardenapura and
others (Bandaranayake, J.)
Commission to allow teachers/officers to avail themselves ofsabbatical leave after their 64th/54th birthday, as the case maybe, deviating from the above provisions of CommissionCircular No. 408. The Commission therefore at its 603rd meet-ing decided to inform all Higher Educational Institutions thatthey should strictly adhere to the provisions of para 5(b) of theabove Circular and that requests of this nature will not be 160entertained by the University Grants Commission in future(emphasis added).”
It is of importance to note that the aforementioned letter of the2nd respondent was dated 22.05.2002 and it specifically referred tothe fact that the said decision would be applicable only in the future.
As referred to earlier, the petitioner's request was approved by the2nd respondent at their 588th meeting held on 30.04.2001 andsuch decision was informed to the 1st respondent by letter dated04.06.2001 (2R3). Such approval was given after considering theconditions stipulated in clause 5(b) of the Circular No. 408 dated 17020.10.1989 and special circumstances the applicant had referred toin his application.
Notwithstanding the clear instructions given by the 2nd respon-dent, the 1st respondent decided to inquire from the 2nd respon-dent by letter dated 03.07.2002 (2R6) whether the decision con-veyed by the 2nd respondent with regard to the petitioner’s leavewould be valid any longer on the basis of the decision taken by the2nd respondent conveyed to the 1st respondent by letter dated
There is no material placed before this Court by the 1strespondent, showing the reasons for the decision to place the isoalready approved request for sabbatical leave of the petitioner,before the Council of the 1st respondent University and later com-municating such decision to the 2nd respondent and queryingwhether its decision would still be valid.
This action of the 1st respondent is clearly without any basis.There was no requirement or a necessity for the 1st respondent totake any steps with regard to the approval given to the petitioner forhim to be away on sabbatical leave. After writing to the 2nd respon-dent querying the leave already granted to the petitioner, the 1strespondent did not consider it necessary to await a reply from the 1902nd respondent. Within a period of 3 weeks the 3rd respondent
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By virtue of this letter, the 1st respondent effectively rescindedthe letter dated 20.08.2001, which intimated the decision of the2nd respondent to the petitioner that he could utilise his 2 yearsof sabbatical leave with effect from 01.06.2002. While the 1strespondent had communicated its decision to the petitioner, the2nd respondent, by letter dated .10.10.2002, informed the 1st 210respondent that as the approval for the petitioner’s sabbaticalleave was granted before the amendment letter which was issuedon 22.05.2002, the initial decision pertaining to the petitionerwould still be valid.
In the aforementioned circumstances, it is surprising to note thatthe 1st respondent notwithstanding the clear instructions given bythe 2nd respondent that their decision will be applicable only tofuture applicants, decided to inform the petitioner, without evenawaiting a reply to their letter by which they sought a clarification.
It is common ground that sabbatical leave to Teachers and 220Officers of Universities is governed by UGC Circular No. 408(2R4). It is also common ground that when by letter dated15.03.2001 the 1st respondent sought approval of the 2nd respon-dent for two years sabbatical leave for the petitioner (2R1), the 2ndrespondent had approved it on 30.04.2001 and had conveyed thesaid decision to the 1st respondent on 04.06.2001. The 2ndrespondent by letter dated 10.10.2002, replied the 1st respondentstating that ‘the petitioner’s sabbatical leave continued to be
wrote to the petitioner informing him that he has to report for workon 16.03.2003. This letter dated 24.07.2002 was in the followingterms (1R5):

Prof. Wickramasinghe v University of Sri Jayawardenapura and
__others (Bandaranayake, J.)
approved as the decision regarding his sabbatical leave had beentaken prior to the communication dated 22.05.2002’ (2R7).230
It is therefore abundantly clear that the improper decision con-veyed to the petitioner by letter dated 24.07.2002 (1R5) restrictingthe petitioner’s sabbatical leave,was taken by the 1 st respondent,not only arbitrarily, but also without any basis.
Considering the totality of the circumstances of this application,it is clear that the petitioner belonged to a group where sabbaticalleave had been given to be enjoyed beyond the age of 64 years.Such leave was granted to the petitioner not by the 1st respondentUniversity, but by the 2nd respondent Commission, which is theultimate authority for such purpose. After all sabbatical leave is 240granted under, and governed by the UGC Circular No. 408 dated20.10.1989 (as amended). In such circumstance, the 1st respon-dent had no authority to issue the letter dated 24.02.2002 andthereby had clearly acted arbitrarily.
Such action means that the decision has been influenced byextraneous consideration, which the relevant authority should nothave considered. When an act is arbitrary it is implicit that suchaction is unequal and therefore violative of Article 12(1) of theConstitution which guarantees equality and equal protection of thelaw. Commenting on the concept of equal protection of laws and 250constitutional guarantee against arbitrariness Bhagwati, J., in E.P.Royappa v State of Tamil NadiP) stated that,
“Equally is a dynamic concept with many aspects anddimensions and it cannot be ‘cribbed, cabined and con-fined’ within traditional and doctrinate limits. From a pos-itivistic point of view equality is antithetic to arbitrariness.
In fact equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies: one
belongs to the rule of law in a republic while the other to
the whim and caprice of an absolute monarch. Where an
act is arbitrary, it is implicit in it that it is unequal both 260
according to political logic and constitutional law and
therefore it is violative of Article 14…”
After the conclusion of the hearing and after the petitioner hadfiled his written submissions, the 1st respondent had filed a motiondated 20.10.2003. By that motion the 1st respondent stated that,
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the 1st respondent University is in agreement to grant the followingreliefs to the petitioner, namely, to set aside the decision to revokethe original decision and to grant sabbatical leave to the petitionerwith full pay from 01st June 2002 till 31st May 2004.
The petitioner thereafter submitted that he did not wish to enter 270into a settlement on that basis with the 1st respondent, as he couldnot go abroad using his sabbatical leave due to the actions of therespondents and the reliefs suggested in the motion filed by the 1strespondent would not be of any use to him.
It is to be noted that the petitioner had to invoke the jurisdictionof this Court, in order to be on sabbatical leave and had to obtainan interim order so that he could enjoy his sabbaticl leave beyond
On a consideration of all the circumstances of this case, themotion filed by the 1st respondent is rejected and I declare that the 2801 st respondent University has violated the petitioner’s fundamentalrights guaranteed in terms of Article 12(1) of the Constitution. Thedecision of the 1st respondent University to revoke the orignal deci-sion to grant the petitioner sabbatical leave with full pay from
till 31.05.2004 is set aside and I direct the respondentsto permit the petitioner to be on sabbatical leave with full pay until
which is in compliance with the decision of the 2ndrespondent dated 10.10.2002 (2R7).
The 1 st respondent University is also directed to pay to the peti-tioner a sum of Rs. 25,000/- as compensation and costs. This 290amount to be paid within 3 months from today.
DE SILVA, J.-I agree.