Plea to fill up 50% vacancies in HC through direct recruitment opposed

Registrar General says there is no constitutional mandate for such a procedure

The Registrar General (RG) of Madras High Court has contended that there is no constitutional mandate to fill up at least 50% of vacancies in the posts of Assistant and Reader/Examiner in the court through direct recruitment.

He has made the submission in a counter affidavit to a public interest litigation petition that opposed the practice of filling up a majority of such vacancies through promotions from among existing staff.

The counter affidavit filed by R. Sakthivel stated that the PIL petition preferred by advocate P. Pugalenthi was not maintainable either in law or on facts. It stated that the service rules could not be challenged by a person who was not aggrieved by them and referred to a couple of Supreme Court judgments, passed in 2011 and 2013, to claim that PIL petitions by third parties could not be entertained in matters related to public services.

“The Madras High Court Service Rules, 2015 have been framed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of this Hon’ble Court in exercise of powers conferred by Articles 229(1) and (2) of the Constitution of India. Such powers being plenary in nature, subject only to the provisos to Articles 229(1) and (2) of the Constitution, the rules made in exercise of such powers cannot be subject to challenge except for reasons based on constitutional provisions,” the RG claimed.

‘No tangible ground’

He further contended that the PIL petitioner had not made out any tangible ground to challenge the rules except to vaguely state that Rule 14A, relating to filling up of vacancies in the posts of Assistant and Reader/Examiner primarily through promotions, offends Articles 14 (Equality before law and equal protection of the laws) and 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution.

“There is no constitutional mandate that at least 50% of the vacancies in appointment to posts in any institution, much less the High Court, should be filled up by direct recruitment. Again the requirement of written examination or any other particular process of making appointments cannot be held to be mandatory and imposed upon any institution, public or private,” the counter affidavit served on the petitioner’s counsel M. Radhakrishnan read.

It went on to state that the service rules do not shut the doors to direct recruitment completely and that they, in fact, provide for recruiting suitable candidates directly if eligible and qualified candidates were not available, in the feeder category, to fill up the vacancies through promotions. “There is no arbitrariness in the rule concerned,” the RG asserted.

However, in his affidavit, the petitioner had claimed that filling lower level posts such as Assistant and Reader/Examiner through promotions would close the avenues for direct recruitment completely, much to the disadvantage of thousands of educated youngsters expecting public employment.


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