Special Correspondent

For appointment of Assistant Commissioners in HR&CE Department

The condition for actual Bar experience “greatly affected” petitioners

“Age requirement not consistent with reality”

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has quashed a Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) notification for the appointment of Assistant Commissioners in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department.

Justice M. Chockalingam, quashing the notification/advertisement dated August 1, also directed the Department to act as per the new/amended guidelines to be framed by the Government. The order was passed on a writ petition filed by D. Rathinavel Pandian and 23 others, all law graduates working as Executive Officers in temples under the HR&CE Department. By the impugned notification, the Department sought to fill 30 per cent of the vacancies through promotion, while 30 per cent of the posts were meant for ministerial staff, and the remaining was meant to be filled through direct recruitment of law graduates who were practising in civil and criminal side for at least three years.

The petitioners said the condition for the actual Bar experience “greatly affected” them and prayed that the rule be relaxed and they be permitted to participate in the direct recruitment.

Senior counsel for the petitioners A.E. Chelliah submitted that the minimum age limit for direct recruitment had been fixed at 21 years, whereas a candidate would be aged 21-22 by the time he completed his law degree. If he spent three more years in the Bar, he would be at least 24-25 years. It was a case of non-application of mind.

Mr. Justice Chockalingam, taking note of the fact that the Executive Officers possessed law degree as well as experience in conducting cases for and against temples, said fixing 21 years as the minimum age for direct recruits was “not consistent with reality.”

Describing the notification as “highly unjust,” the judge said merely because a person was practising as an advocate for three years it could not be said that his experience would become more than that of the officers in the temple administration.

Quashing the notification, he said it would be proper to issue a direction to the Commission to take into consideration various issues raised and frame new rules before re-notifying the appointments.