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K. Rajendran v. State of Tamil Nadu


Authored by Shweta Tated


Keywords: Civil service, abolition, Tamil Nadu, Village officers, administration, barabaluti system.


· Name of the Case: K. Rajendran v. State of Tamil Nadu

· Equivalent Citation: AIR 1982 SC 1107; 1982 (3) SCR 628; 1982 (2) SCC 273

· Name of the Parties: K. Rajendran &Ors. (Petitioner)State of Tamil Nadu &Ors (Respondents)

· Bench in the Court: Hon’ble JusticeVenkataramiah, E.S., Hon’ble Justice Fazalali, Hon’ble Justice Sayed Murtaza Varadarajan, A.


Abstract

In this case the power of a State to abolish a post and all relevant questions are answered. In Tamil Nadu the administration was carried on at village level by certain chain of officers in gradation which commenced right from the Christian era. There were in all 12 functionaries and they worked under the barabaluti system. In this case an analysis of how the State enactment for the abolition of civil posts of part-time village Officers and whole-time administration officers is considered to be valid and legal is stated. The Court in this case has laid whether the government has the right to abolish the posts or cadre and also the right of the incumbent of the particular post. Various doctrines, American and English jurisprudence is considered in the course of this judgement in the Hon’ble Court.


Introduction

In this case a total number of 23,010 posts were abolished by the Tamil Nadu Abolition of Posts of Part-time Village Officers Act,1981. In the writ petitions, the Constitutional validity Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officer’s ordinance, 1980 and the Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officers Act, 1981 was raised by the petitioners who were the part-time holders of the post.


Background of the Case

The system of administration that was known as the barabaluti system considered 12 functionaries and in the state of Tamil Nadu the village was the basic unit of revenue administration from early times. In the late 19th century 2 Acts that is The Madras Proprietary States Village Service Act,1894 and The Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act,1895 were into force for the purpose of regulating the work of some village officers.


The Madras Proprietary States Village Service Act,1894 copes with three categories of village officers that’s the village accountants, headmen and watchmen or police officers and their punishment, remuneration and appointments with regard to any neglect or misconduct. Whereas, The Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895 regulated succession to various hereditary village offices and the officers dealt with under this Act were the village munsifs,potels, monigars, peddakapus, karnams,nirgantis,vettis, totis, tar dalgars and the talayaris in ryotwari villages.


Under these statues, the succession to all the hereditary village offices devolved on single heir and the rule of legacy governing succession to impartible zamindaris in the Southern India. According to Section 3 of the Act, the State Government notified that Tamil Nadu Village officers Service Rules, 1970that provided for the constitution of the Tamil Nadu Village Officers Service, which consisted of the village headman, additional village headman village karnam, additional village karnams, talayari and nirgantis and the method of recruitment to these posts. The distinctive features of the service conditions of the village officers appointed under the two Acts or the Board’s Standing Orders were that they were part-time employees of the Government and they were appointed directly by the Revenue officer. The Fundamental Rules applicable to all or any other State Government employees, the Pension Rules, and the Leave rules weren’t applicable to these village officers.


Facts

The Administrative Reforms Commission set up by the State Government in the year 1973, recommended that the existing part-time village officers should be replaced as whole-time transferrable public servants and they will form a part of the Revenue hierarchy. The rural population should be beneficial by the reform in the village administration and The State Government promulgated the Tamil Nadu Village officers Service Rules, 1974 in consistence with the recommendations. The retirement age of the officers issued to be fixed at 60 years by the Tamil Nadu Village Officers Service Rules, 1978.


By November 1980 the ordinance was promulgated abolishing the posts of part-time village officers in the state. It was later replaced by Tamil Nadu Abolition of Posts of Part-time Village Officers Act, 1981 wherein it provided for appointment of officers. Section 3 of the Act stated that, the posts of part-time village officers were abolished with effect from November 14, 1980 and every officer holding a post so abolished ceased to hold such post. Whereas Section 5 provided for payment of compensation to those who cease to be part-time village officers. The petitioner brought the issue to the notice of the SC under Original jurisdiction of the Hon’ble Court as he was a part of the post that was now terminated and thus raised the issues on the said Act on the idea of it being against Constitutional provisions.


Issues

1. Whether the Constitutional provisions resulted in violation fundamental rights of the petitioner under the Part-Time Village Officers Act, 1981?

2. Whether it is the arbitrariness of the Government to abolish the posts altogether?

3. Whether the petitions violative of Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India?

4. Whether Article 14 of the Constitution of India in contravention?


Judgement

The Government has the power in relation to the Constitutional provisions to reorganize a department and provide with efficiency in the economy. The Act isn’t violative of Article 19 (1) (g) s it does not affect the right of any of the incumbents of the posts to carry on any occupation of their preference even though they may not be able to stick on to the posts which they were holding.


The termination of service of a Government servant indirect upon the abolition of posts does not involve punishment at all and therefore does not attract Article 311(2).If the post abolished is a special post or where an entire organization is abolished and there is no lower organization to which the members of the abolished organization can reasonably be confiscated, the application of the principle of ‘last come, first go’ may not arise at all. In this case it can’t be said that the State Act by which the village officers in the State of Tamil Nadu were abolished, contravenes Article 311 (2).


The decision to terminate the village offices which were feudalistic in character and misplacement in the modern age cannot be said to be arbitrary or unreasonable. The indemnity, payable by the State Government under Section 5 of the Act to those who fail to be village officers shall be adjusted against the amount paid pursuant to the interim orders passed in these cases. The State Government will not retrieve from them any amount paid to them pursuant to the provisional orders passed in these cases in excess of the compensation, payable to them. The interim orders stand vacated.


Concepts Highlighted

With the issues raised the SC explained the concept of right to work under Articles 38 and 43.It is no doubt that Article 38 and Article 43 of the Constitution assert that the State should undertake to find ample work for the people so that they may put their capacity to work into economic use and earn a good living. But these articles do not mean that everybody should be provided with a job in the civil service of the State and if a person is granted with one, he must not be asked to leave it even for a just cause. The extensive features of Tamil Nadu Abolition of Posts of Part-time Village Officers Act, 1981 were decoded in the case. The sense of good faith in elimination of positions has been laid down with respect to American Jurisprudence. The case has discussed about the doctrine of colourable legislation and also mentions about doctrine of pleasure.

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