New Delhi, Aug 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has directed the Jamia Millia Islamia to maintain status quo regarding the employment of one of its contractual employees whose services were terminated via a WhatsApp message months before her contract was to expire.

Justice Jyoti Singh issued a notice to the university and sought its response on the woman employee's petition.

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The PIL claimed that JMI had terminated the services of all the six employees of the accounting department of the Centre for Distant and Open Learning (CDOL) "without any rhyme or reason".

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 20. "In the meantime, status quo on the services of petitioner, as on July 10, 2020, shall be maintained," it said.

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According to the WhatsApp message received by the petitioner from the JMI on Monday, she was told that her services had come to an end with effect from July 11.

Her lawyer told the court, during the hearing held via video conferencing on Thursday, that the varsity's decision had come as a shock as her contract was valid till November and her termination has resulted in loss of livelihood, especially in the "prevailing adverse circumstances on account of the COVID-19 pandemic".

According to her petition, she was selected for appointment as an account assistant against one of the six sanctioned posts created by the JMI executive council after participation in an open selection on November 20, 2017.

An offer of appointment issued to her on November 23 and she joined the post the next day, her lawyer told the court.

She has contended in her plea that the varsity's decision was "illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and an unjust order/action" and had resulted in virtually closing down of the CDOL's accounting department before even the contractual period of three years had come to an end.

The petition has also contended that the decision was taken without any notice to show cause and opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, which it said was a gross violation of the principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience.

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