20 Nov 2023 12:15 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has upheld the decision of the State government in appointing K. Naggana Gowda as the Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.Dismissing the petition filed by Ashok S. Sanadi, who was not selected for the post, a Single Judge Bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said, “This Court cannot step into the shoes of the Selection Committee...
The Karnataka High Court has upheld the decision of the State government in appointing K. Naggana Gowda as the Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Dismissing the petition filed by Ashok S. Sanadi, who was not selected for the post, a Single Judge Bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna said, “This Court cannot step into the shoes of the Selection Committee or assume an appellate role, over the selection made.”
The petitioner, seeking setting aside of the appointment, had primarily contented that Gowda (5th respondent) was least qualified to hold the post, as he was a political representative of the Bharatiya Janata Party and had not worked in the field of child rights.
It was highlighted that in contrast, the petitioner was practising as an Advocate and completely involved in cases concerning juvenile justice.
Opposing the plea, Gowda had submitted that long before the selection process he had demitted membership of a political party and was advocating for child rights for a long time.
In its analysis, the Bench referred to Rule 3 of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Rules, 2010, which deals with eligibility for appointment as Chairperson and other Members, and explicated,
“…The Chairperson shall fulfil certain conditions as depicted in the Rule that a person shall have at least five years of work experience in the field of child rights, child protection and advocacy for upholding the rights of children. This is the rung of eligibility. A person who is sought to be appointed as a Chairperson or a Member should not be an office bearer or Member of any political party. This is the second rung of disability. The person selected for the post of Chairperson or Members should not hold any other post of governmental, quasi governmental, public sector, non-governmental or private organisation whether for profit or not, is another rung of disability, inter alia.”
Perusing the records, it rejected the petitioner’s contention that Gowda’s appointment had to be annulled as he was an office bearer/member of a political party, noting:
“The Notification for selection, as observed hereinabove, is issued on 31-01-2022, close to 15 months after the resignation of the 5th respondent from the political party. Therefore, the first pronged attack that the 5th respondent is an office bearer or member of a political party tumbles down, as, on the date of issuance of the notification the 5th respondent was neither an office bearer, nor a member of any political party.”
On the aspect of Gowda’s experience in the field of child rights, the court said, “…the 5th respondent has also placed on record several documents that would drive home that the 5th respondent is fighting for child rights or has been advocating the cause of children and their rights for the last 20 years.”
Addressing the limit over scrutinising Selection Committee’s decision under Article 226, it was held, “This Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution would not weigh the credentials qua experience of both the petitioner and the 5th respondent, and come to conclude that the experience of the petitioner far outweighs the experience of the 5th respondent. This is not the discretion exercisable by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”
The court further added, “This Court would not sit in the armchair of experts and decide who is better qualified, qua their experience and obliterate an appointment made by the Selection Committee, virtually sitting in appeal over the findings and wisdom of the Selection Committee. The discretion available to this Court is exercisable only in certain circumstances, qua challenge to an appointment made by the Selection Committee, which would be arbitrariness and such arbitrariness should be palpable or demonstrable. The other would be that the selection and appointment should suffer from certain statutory aberrations.”
Appearance: Advocate Ranganath S Josi a/w Advocate N Krishne Gowda for Petitioner; HCGP Spoorthy Hegde N for R1 to R4; Advocate G.B.Sharath Gowda for R5.
Citation NO: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 438
Case Title: Ashok D Sanadi And The Chief Secretary & Others
Case No: WRIT PETITION No.25010 OF 2022
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