Chennai

HC comes to the rescue of Village Administrative Officers

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Judges permit them to approach govt. for amending rule that requires VAOs to reside in place of posting

Thousands of Village Administrative Officers (VAOs) across the State may now have a reason to rejoice as the Madras High Court has permitted them to make a representation to the government for reconsidering a ministerial service rule that requires VAOs to reside in the village where they had been posted.

The First Division Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad passed the order while disposing of a writ petition filed by a group of six VAOs challenging the validity of the service rule. They said it would be open to the government to consider the petitioners’ grievance in accordance with law.

Practical difficulties

The orders were passed after recording the submissions of advocate Naveen Kumar Murthi, representing the petitioners, that the VAOs, especially women, faced practical difficulties in residing in the village concerned. Therefore, it would be better if their presence in the village was made mandatory between 8 am and 8 pm every day.

It was also suggested that the government could consider the practical or pragmatic difficulties and thereby make appropriate changes in the definition of the term ‘reside’ used in the ministerial service rules. Finding some justification in the submissions, the judges permitted the petitioners to represent their cause before the government.

‘Approach government’

They, however, refrained from entertaining the writ petition challenging the service rules, since the issue had already been dealt with elaborately by coordinate benches of the High Court in different cases and all of them had unanimously ruled that VAOs must reside in the village concerned given the onerous responsibility of attending to the basic needs of the residents.

Not wanting to sit in appeal over the orders passed by other Division Benches of the court, the first Bench led by the Chief Justice stopped short with granting liberty to the petitioners to approach the government for making appropriate amendments to the rule.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 8:47:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-comes-to-the-rescue-of-village-administrative-officers/article30119735.ece

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