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A Public Interest Litigation has been filed before the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the constitutional validity of a part of Rule 4 of the Andhra Pradesh State Subordinate Service Rules, 1996.
The Rule in question deals with the methods that the government may adopt in filling vacancies in cadres of its departments.
The petition filed by the Telangana State Panchayat Raj Civil Engineers Forum contends that the fourth method of appointment – which allows the government to fill vacancies by re-appointment of retired employees or by way of contract/agreement – is arbitrary, and violates the fundamental rights of those officials whose promotions are being blocked by such appointments.
The petition states,
“…that it is well settled principle of law that the State shall provide some promotional opportunities to the existing employees to enable them to develop their career as well as to see that employees shall not be subjected to dissatisfaction and providing promotional opportunities to employees is one of the duties of the State, in other words, enforcing fundamental rights of employees working in the state ie., Article 16 and 14 of the Constitution of India.”
The petition maintains that the part of the impugned Rule under challenge does not lay down any procedure or criteria which need to be satisfied before such re-appointments can be made, and that this was violative of decisions by the Supreme Court.
“I respectfully submit that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in catena of decisions, categorically held that any such rule without issuing any guidelines to exercise that power is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional violating Article 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the Petitioner is compelled to challenge that Rule.”
It is further contended that the Rule is being used as a tool to extend the age of superannuation of employees, whilst also granting them immunity from the powers vested in the state to take disciplinary action against them, as they fail to qualify as public servants once reappointed.
“…allowing retired employees to continue in service by way of re-employment in the guise of impugned rule is nothing but increasing the age of superannuation to particular employees…
…if the State wanted to increase the age of superannuation from 58 years to 60 years as was done in the State of AP, it is always open to the State of Telangana to increase the age of superannuation from 58 to 60 years invoking the authority and power vested either under Article 309 of the Constitution.”
An apprehension that the Prevention of Corruption Act may not apply to the re-appointed individuals for the same reason has also been raised in the petition.
“…. Prevention of Corruption Act also may not be applicable for any criminal misconduct committed by officers after their re-employment in as much as they are not public servants under the definition in Prevention of Corruption Act.”
The main prayers in the petition also seek that the Court direct the government to replace those appointed in the allegedly irregular way by those from within the cadre who are eligible, and to restrain the government from making such appointments in cadre related posts.
The matter is likely to be listed for hearing tomorrow.