The Madras High Court has directed the Government of Tamil Nadu to consider forming of "Tamil Nadu Administrative Service" including all the Departments connected to the Revenue and General Administration, Implementation of State policies for development in General as has been done by the Kerala Government.
The bench of Justice M. Govindaraj further directed the Government to consider taking steps to treat all State Level Officers alike and provide equal opportunity to them by making an appropriate recommendation to the Central Government to bring them into Administrative Service. The state was further directed to constitute a Committee for the purpose of identifying the posts, which can be brought under the definition of Deputy Collector. The government is expected to initiate all these processes within a period of six months.
The bench made the above directions in a plea challenging the rejection of a request to include posts of Joint Director and Additional Director of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, in the "State Civil Service" by the Government of Tamil Nadu. All the writ petitioners belonged to the Tamil Nadu Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department.
The plea of the petitioners was that they were selected through the Group-I examination conducted by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission but since they were not included in the State Civil Service, they could not get into Indian Administrative Service. They further contended that the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Development were an important part of the Revenue Administration. But, even though these posts hold high responsibility, they were not included in the Tamil Nadu Civil Service.
The Additional Advocate General Mr. P.H. Arvind Pandian submitted that Rule 5 in Special Rules for the Tamil Nadu Civil Services provides for only certain posts under the definition of Deputy Collector and that it is for the Central Government to approve the amendment to these rules to include petitioners' posts in the State Civil Service.
The Central Government, on the other hand, submitted that it is the State Government that has to recognize the inclusion of Officers of General Administration and the posts holding higher responsibility under the Special Rules, and only after such inclusion, the same can be approved by the Central Government.
The Court discussed in detail the law existing in the country with respect to the state civil service. Rule 2(g) of the Indian Administrative Service (Recruitment) Rules, 1954 defines State Civil Service as below:
"2(g) "State Civil Service" means:-
(ii) in all other cases, any service or services approved for the purpose of these rules by the Central Government, in consultation with the State Government, a member of which normally holds charge of a sub-division of a district for purposes of revenue and general administration or posts of higher responsibility;"
Thus, it can be inferred that only such officers who are in charge of a sub-division of a District for the purposes of Revenue and General Administration and those officers holding higher responsibility can be included in the State Civil Service.
The Tamil Nadu Civil Service Rules constitutes two categories, namely, District Revenue Officer (Category -I) and Deputy Collector (Category – II) as members of the Tamil Nadu Civil Services. Members of the Revenue Department alone are defined as Deputy Collector (Category -II).
The court noted that those candidates who have been appointed to other services falling under Group-I Service, who have been appointed through the competitive examinations, are not inferior to those persons, who are appointed to the post of Deputy Collectors.
"If a person is appointed as a Revenue Inspector or some other Subordinate Service can be promoted as Deputy Collector to perform his duties, the candidate selected through Group-I Service and appointed to other Department is also capable to discharge the duties of a Deputy Collector. Thus, from the totality of the circumstances, it can be inferred is that there are posts falling under Group – I Service of various Department and the holders of those posts are equally qualified to discharge the functions of the Deputy Collector provided an opportunity is given to them."
The court also highlighted the example of Kerala, where the Government set up the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) with 18 Departments to raise the quality of governance and to hold young and energetic Officers to come into Administration. The Kerala Government also made a move to identify other Gazetted Posts equivalent to the post of Deputy Collector and to absorb them into the Kerala Administrative Service. By this, all highly responsible, potential, and meritorious officers of all the Departments will get a chance to get into Indian Administrative Service.
The court noted that the State Government has ample powers to make amendments to the Special Rules for the Tamil Nadu Civil Service and that there is no hard and fast rule that the State Government shall follow the definition of Deputy Collector defined during the colonial era.
The court, therefore, directed the state government to take the example of Kerala to include all those who are involved in the General Administration of the Governance in the State Civil Service. The court observed that a narrow definition of including only the post of Deputy Collector will deprive the Government itself of having efficient, energetic, and intelligent officers for its better governance.
Case Title: P. Anandhraj, Joint Director and Others v. The Government of Tamil Nadu and Others
Case No: W.P No. 17643 of 2012
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 212
Counsels: Mr M.Ravi (for Petitioners), Mr. P.H. Arvind Pandian, Additional Advocate General assisted by Ms R. Janaki, Additional Government Pleader (For R1-R2), Mr. K. Sridhar (for R4), Mr. V. Vijay Shankar ( for R6) and Mr. C.K Chandrasekar (for R7)