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Equal Opportunity In Public Employment A Constitutional Mandate But Appointment Can't Be Claimed As A Matter Of Absolute Right: Madras High Court

Upasana Sajeev
30 May 2022 4:45 AM GMT
Disciplinary Proceedings Cannot Be Initiated For Absence When The Period Of Absence Was Regularised By The Authorities: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court recently observed that in matters of public employments, equal opportunities should be granted. Whenever a decision is taken with respect to recruitment, the competent authorities are bound to follow the recruitment rules in force by providing equal opportunities to all candidate. However, the court also observed that appointments can never be claimed as a matter of absolute right.

Justice SM Subramaniam was dealing with a batch of writ petitions filed by persons who took part in the process of selection for appointment to the post of Field Assistant (Trainee) in 2016.

The petitioners were not appointed as they did not fall within the zone of consideration. Subsequently, Thousands of vacancies arose for the post but the respondents did not take any action to fill up the vacancies by providing an opportunity to the persons who have participated in the selection during the year 2016.

The petitioners argued that the respondent- Tamil Nadu Electricity Generation & Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) utilized persons appointed as Gangmen to perform the duties of the Field Assistant and that this has resulted in a lot of accidents as the Gangmen are not qualified to perform the duties in live electric wires. They thus claimed that the action of the respondent is not condonable and that they are bound to consider all the candidate for appointment to the post of Field Assistants.

The respondents on the other hand opposed these contentions by stating that the petitioners were not considered for appointment as they did not fall within the zone of consideration and that 900 candidates were selected and appointed in the same recruitment process. Further in 2020, a notification was issued for filing up 2900 vacancies in the post of Field Assistant. However, the same was discontinued on account of Covid-19 situation.

The respondents further informed that recently the government enacted the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (Additional Functions) Act 2022 (Act 14 of 2022) according to which the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission was given authority to recruit candidates for appointment to the post of Field Assistant. Thus, the power to recruit was now with the Commission. The respondents also submitted that the writ petitions are liable to be rejected in view of the fact that they were filed after a lapse of six years challenging the appointments in 2016.

The court agreed with this contention of the respondents. It observed that a direction could not be made to the respondents to appoint petitioners as Field Assistants and that too after a lapse of six years. It also held that the writ petitioners have not established any right for the purpose of granting the relief of appointment to the post of Field Assistant, as appointments are to be made in accordance with the recruitment rules in force.

The court also observed that if seen that the Gangmen were utilized to perform the duties of wiremen, electricians etc, the public institutions were expected to act in accordance with law. The court also observed that the petitioners were at liberty to participate in the recruitment process if any notification was issued to such extend.

Case Title: Thanaseelvi Mary v. The Chairman & Managing Director TANGEDCO

Case No: WP No 13321 of 2022 and others

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 228

Counsel for Petitioners: Senior Advocate Mr A.E Chelliah for M/s.C.Vasanthakumari Chelliah

Counsel for Respondents: Mr P Subramanian

Click here to read/download the judgment

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