Unless rules under HR & CE provision relating to appointment are issued

Unless the rules under the HR and CE Act provision relating to appointment and duties of Executive Officers is issued, the Commissioner cannot appoint any Executive Officer, irrespective of the situation in the administration of a temple, the Madras High Court has ruled. The court judgment is likely to have an effect on EO appointments already made.

Justice S. Nagamuthu passed the order while allowing a writ petition by the Arulmigu Vaithianathaswamy Devasthanam, Vaitheeswaran Koil, Nagapattinam district.

The devasthanam challenged a HR and CE Commissioner’s show cause notice of February 12 this year calling upon it to explain why an Executive Officer (EO) should not be appointed for the temple for one year and the consequential proceedings. In the notice, six alleged irregularities were noted.

The SGP submitted that the court may make it clear that this order would not affect the appointments of EOs in other temples which had already come into force.

“In my considered opinion, it is not possible to confine the answer to the legal issue only to this case in view of the authoritative judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Dr.Subramanian Swamy’s case,” Mr.Justice Nagamuthu said.

Notice challenged

The petitioner challenged the notice on the ground that the Commissioner had no jurisdiction to issue it and to appoint an EO for the temple. This was because under Section 45 (1) of the HR and CE Act (Appointment and duties of Executive Officers) the government had not issued any rule prescribing the conditions upon which the EO could be appointed.

The Special Government Pleader opposed the writ petition.

Mr. Justice Nagamuthu said a plain reading of the judgment in the Dr.Subramanian Swamy’s case would make it clear that the Supreme Court had once for all declared it as a law that under Section 45 (1), the Commissioner could appoint an EO for a temple, provided there comes into being a rule prescribing the circumstances/conditions upon which such power could be exercised by Commissioner.

But so far no such rules had been issued. As had been held by the Supreme Court, “unless such rules are issued, the second respondent (Commissioner) could not exercise his power at all to appoint any Executive Officer, irrespective of the situation prevailing in the administration of the temple.”

The Advocate-General A.L. Somayaji said the government is to issue appropriate rules soon.

The Judge set aside the show cause notice and the consequential proceedings. However, it is open for the Commissioner to initiate action, after the rules come into force and if the conditions/circumstances are satisfied.

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