13 March 2023 5:00 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently observed that the perversity of an action or decision by a public authority/official, acting in the domain of public administration, irrespective of the tier of the administration, has no hiding from the pendular gaze of the Rule of Law which may for a given case get late but not defaults in catching up with the wrong deed and...
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently observed that the perversity of an action or decision by a public authority/official, acting in the domain of public administration, irrespective of the tier of the administration, has no hiding from the pendular gaze of the Rule of Law which may for a given case get late but not defaults in catching up with the wrong deed and wrongdoer masquerading in the domain of the public administration.
The observations were made by Justice Rahul Bharti while hearing a plea in terms of which the petitioner had challenged the engagement of respondent no. 6 as an Anganwadi Worker at the cost of the entitlement of the petitioner.
In the instant matter the petitioner, who was supposed to be engaged as being at the number one position in the panel as an Anganwadi Worker had got duped of her said entitlement by contrivance on the part of the Sarpanch of the village to get his daughter-in-law to be engaged in which three government officials had lent their full role.
The engagement of respondent no. 6 as an Anganwadi Worker at the cost of the petitioner was sourced to an alleged affidavit dated November 24 2011 attributed to the petitioner and taken cognizance of by a three-member Selection Committee.
It was on the basis of this document that the three-member Selection Committee had concluded that the petitioner will not work as an Anganwadi Worker and accordingly a way was paved for respondent no. 6 to get an engagement order.
In his plea the petitioner called the engagement of respondent no. 6 a foul play at the end of the official respondents concerned, engineered by respondent no. 7 to bring the undue and undeserving engagement of his daughter-in-law i.e. respondent no. 6 as an Anganwadi Worker for the Anganwadi Centre.
Dealing with the matter Justice Bharti noted that the affidavit which proved to be a game changer in the matter bears a verification and attestation by and before the Tehsildar Executive Magistrate 1st Class, Sunderbani and incidentally it was the respondent no. 7 who had identified the petitioner.
After closely examining the Affidavit the bench observed that the court has no iota of doubt that the petitioner became the victim of foul play at the end of respondent no. 7 to which active and passive facilitation was extended by the three-member Selection Committee comprising of the officials of the time who served as the Child Development Project Officer ICDS Project Sunderbani, the District Social Welfare Officer Rajouri and the Programme Officer, ICDS Project Rajouri.
Pointing out to the fact that the selection panel was prepared on Feb 06th 2012 and before that it was not in any manner possible for the petitioner, who is a middle-pass BPL category woman, to know beforehand in November 2011 that it is she who was going to be number one in merit, the court reasoned that the coming into picture of an affidavit dated November 24th 2011 allegedly attributed to the petitioner, even if the signatures of the petitioner on the said affidavit are genuine, cannot be said to be an act of the petitioner being conscious of the contents of the affidavit, its import and the effect and the purpose for which it was to be used.
Highlighting the deception practised against the petitioner the court observed that what was known only to the three-member selection committee in terms of the final position of the candidates was already known to respondent no. 7 who activated his machination to play deception upon the petitioner as is evident from the very text of the affidavit itself in which the petitioner in November 2011 is assuming herself to be the number one candidate and tendering her abandonment in favour of the second candidate, which incidentally in terms of the merit list prepared on 06.02.2012 came to be the respondent no. 6.
"It is in this context that the act of respondent no. 7 in identifying the petitioner concerning the attestation of the alleged affidavit of the petitioner before the Tesildar Executive Magistrate 1st Class, Sunderbani carries significance and is a pointer to the fact that respondent no. 7 was enjoying very active feedback of information from the end of the said three-member Selection Committee", the bench recorded.
Expressing displeasure on the actions of the respondents the court observed that the connivance at the end of the members of the Selection Committee and respondent no. 7 was contrived and corrupt in nature and intent to deprive the petitioner of her merit-based entitlement and bestow wrongful gain in favour of respondent no. 6.
"This Court cannot lend any legitimacy to this fraud and as such the engagement of the respondent no. 6 has to be held and is held to be null and void ab initio, and as such, is set aside", said the court.
Additionally, the court directed the Anti Corruption bureau Bureau Rajouri to undertake an enquiry into the matter to ascertain the culpability, departmental or criminal, if any, official respondents who then constituted the Selection Committee and on the part of respondent no. 7.
The bench further ordered the engagement of the petitioner as Anganwadi Worker with a further direction that the same shall be deemed to be with retrospective effect on a notional basis.
Case Title: Rajana Devi Vs State of J&K &Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (JKL) 52
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