Court quashes G.O.

The Madras High Court has quashed a Government Order of June 2009 by which an elected ward member of a panchayat union was disqualified on the ground that he was employed as a State Transport Corporation driver.

Allowing a writ petition challenging the G.O., Justice K. Chandru said that when Section 34 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act (TNPA), though disqualified a servant of a body corporate owned or controlled by the State government, it never considered a casual employment in such service. In the present case, at the time of election, the petitioner was not in any employment. Subsequently, when he was given employment as a reserve duty driver, it did not make him a regular servant of the transport corporation. Even the petitioner in his explanation had produced a copy of an order terminating his services from the corporation on the ground that he had suppressed the information that he was a ward member.

Petitioner R. Jemin said he was elected seventh ward member of the Thirupananthal Panchayat Union in Thanjavur district in the October 2006 election. After a show cause notice by the BDO, he was disqualified to continue as the ward member by a G.O. of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department on the ground that he was employed in the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Kumbakonam) Ltd., Kumbakonam. Mr. Jemin said he was only a temporary reserve driver on daily wages. He could not be construed as an employee of a State-controlled corporation.

In his counter, the District Collector, Thanjavur, said the petitioner was selected as a temporary driver after getting his name sponsored through the employment exchange. A temporary driver was also a servant of the State Government-owned transport corporation.

Mr. Justice Chandru said a casual entry into a government-owned corporation could not make the petitioner disqualified from continuing in his elected post. The State Election Commissioner had not considered the petitioner’s status vis-À-vis the disqualification clause found in the TNPA.

If the petitioner had no right to enter into regular service nor had any chance of becoming the corporation’s regular servant and the fact that his services were dispensed with by the corporation, he ought not to have been disqualified from being a ward member, a post he held by virtue of his election. When once an opinion of the Commission was set aside, the petitioner was entitled to get restored as a Member of the seventh ward. The Judge directed the authorities to recognise the petitioner as member of the seventh ward.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:36:55 PM |

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