Bench rejects the contention of Madurai Corporation

The Madras High Court Bench here has held as illegal the filling up of six vacancies of Assistant Engineer in Madurai Municipal Corporation by way of promotion.

The court said that the vacancies could be filled up only through direct recruitment as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Municipal Corporation Service Rules, 1996.

Allowing a writ appeal filed by R. Rajaseeli, a woman candidate who was interviewed for the post in February 2008 but not appointed in view of the promotions given to the existing staff, a Division Bench comprising Justice K. Suguna and Justice A. Arumughaswamy directed the Corporation Commissioner to fill up the vacancies by following the relevant rules scrupulously.

The Bench rejected the contention of the Corporation as well as the six promotees — S. Babu, P. Mani, V.S. Manian, D. Thiyagarajan, S. Arulsahaya Xavier and T. Santhanam — that there was nothing wrong in filling up the posts through promotion as Rule 7 of the Municipal Corporation Service Rules empowers local bodies to promote their staff on a temporary basis.

Writing the judgement, Ms. Justice Suguna pointed out that Rule 7 categorically states that temporary promotions should not exceed for more than three months whereas in the present case the six promotees were continuing in the post since January 2009 to till date and a plea made to ratify their appointments was pending with the State Government.

The judges rejected the promotees' other contention that the petitioner, being an outsider, did not have any locus standi to challenge the promotions given to them.

They agreed with the appellant's counsel B. Saravanan that his client, being one of the aspirants to the post, was well within her powers to file the case challenging the promotions given contrary to statutory rules.

The writ appeal was filed after a single judge of the High Court had dismissed a writ petition filed by the woman in November 2010 on technical grounds.

The single judge was of the view that the petitioner ought to have challenged only the promotion orders.