The Madras High Court Bench here has set aside an order passed by the revenue officials terminating the services of a minor who was appointed as a ‘Thalaiyari’ (Village Assistant) of Pudukiramam in Nanguneri taluk of Tirunelveli district on September 21, 2007.

Allowing a petition filed by the girl, Justice V. Dhanapalan said that the jurisdictional Tahsildar alone was entitled to pass a termination order as per Tamil Nadu Village Servant Classification Control and Appeal Rules, 1983.

However, in the present case, it had been issued by the Cheranmahadevi Revenue Divisional Officer.

“The RDO is an appellate authority and if he assumes the power of the original authority, then the petitioner may lose the opportunity of making an appeal. It is the cardinal principle of law that only the competent authority has to pass the order…Any deviation contrary to the statutory Rule would vitiate the entire proceedings,” he said.

Holding that the termination order could not be sustained, the judge remitted the matter back to the authorities for considering it afresh. This time, the officials should scrupulously follow the procedures contemplated under the Rules and also provide an opportunity to the girl to submit her explanation before passing appropriate orders, he added.

A. Gnanamani was terminated from service on January 29, 2009 on the ground that she was only 17 years old during her appointment in 2007. Pointing out that every appointee should have completed 21 years of age, the officials claimed that District Employment Officer had mistakenly included the petitioner’s name in the selection panel.

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