6 April 2022 4:45 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently observed that a candidate cannot be denied public employment merely on the ground that she is not a resident or domicile of a particular location. Ruling so, Justice V.G. Arun set aside a resolution and declared that the Panchayat cannot deny an appointment to the most meritorious candidate for the reason that she is not a resident of the Panchayat."The...
The Kerala High Court recently observed that a candidate cannot be denied public employment merely on the ground that she is not a resident or domicile of a particular location.
Ruling so, Justice V.G. Arun set aside a resolution and declared that the Panchayat cannot deny an appointment to the most meritorious candidate for the reason that she is not a resident of the Panchayat.
"The legal position that there cannot be discrimination in public employment based on the place of residence or domicile of a candidate is no more res integra."
The petitioner had applied for a post notified by the Annamanada Grama Panchayat under the MNREGS. After the interview, the petitioner was ranked first and her appointment was considered for the concerned post in the Panchayat committee meeting held in September 2020. However, nine members in the said meeting were against appointing the petitioner for the reason that her place of residence was not within the Panchayat.
Aggrieved by the resolution passed in this meeting, the petitioner moved the Court seeking to quash the resolution as arbitrary and unconstitutional and to declare the petitioner's entitlement for an appointment, based on her position in the rank list.
Advocate Thulasi K.Raj appearing for the petitioner contended that the Panchayat is bound to appoint the petitioner based on her rank and the decision not to appoint persons from outside the Panchayat militates against the constitutional guarantee under Article 16. It was also pointed out that in the notification calling for applications, there was no mention of a condition that only residents of the Panchayat will be considered for appointment or that preference will be given to such residents.
On the other hand, Advocate O.D.Sivadas appearing for the Panchayat argued that the petitioner has no indefeasible right to appointment for the reason of her inclusion in the rank list.
Senior Government Pleader V. Venugopal submitted that denial of appointment to the petitioner for the reason that she is not a resident of Annamanada Panchayat is illegal while adding that there is no provision in the MNREGS Act or in any Government Order providing preference to candidates from within the Panchayat or excluding persons from outside the Panchayat.
The Court agreed with the view taken by the Senior Government Pleader and noted that the legal position in this question was no more res integra.
It referred to Kailash Chand Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, (2002) 6 SCC 562, where the Apex Court held,
"Residence by itself — be it within a State, region, district or lesser area within a district cannot be a ground to accord preferential treatment or reservation, save as provided in Article 16(3)."
Therefore, the decision of the Panchayat Committee refusing appointment to the petitioner for the sole reason that she is not a resident of Annamanada was found to be liable to be set aside and the petition was accordingly disposed of.
Case Title: Liji A.S v. State of Kerala & Ors
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 164
Click Here To Read/Download The Order