Tamil Nadu

High Court orders quota in anganwadis

The Madras High Court has directed the State government to provide for reservation for SC/STs while filling up posts of anganwadi workers and noon-meal organisers, coming under the ICDS scheme and the nutritious noon meal scheme respectively.

In his common order disposing of a batch of petitions, Justice K.Chandru said till the rules of reservation were provided, the State is forbidden from filling up a large number of posts (as many as 20,000) without due representation to SC/ST communities ignoring the constitutional mandate.

The petitioners contended that by an order dated June 30, 2008, the government decided to fill up the post of noon meal organisers, cooks, assistants, anganwadi workers and anganwadi assistants numbering about 29,773. Of these, 10,028 posts were under the nutritious meal scheme and 19,745 under the ICDS scheme.

It was decided to recruit candidates on the basis of educational qualifications, age, communal roster as well as recruitment guidelines available on the date of the order.

Though it was found that the posts should be filled up by following the communal roster, no post had been reserved based on the roster.

Mr.Justice Chandru said it should be noted that the posts of noon meal organiser, cook and assistant cook as well as helper in anganwadi centres were not created by any rule framed under Article 309 of the Constitution. It is not a constituted service.

However, since the government took over the scheme and had created a separate ministry for administering it and was bearing the entire cost of the scheme, including of provisions, utensils and overhead expenditures, salaries of all employees, it was a public employment.

Any appointment to such posts must be subjected to the touchstone of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

Mammoth scheme

Whatever may be the circumstances which prevailed earlier, the government had now directly started implementing the mammoth scheme at the level of a Secretary to government and the Collector at the district level. “It is a public employment.

In case of any public employment, equality doctrine with exception for rule of reservation is available subject to qualification prescribed therein.”

Positive direction

The Judge said the court had no hesitation to reject the State government stand give a positive direction to provide for reservation in terms of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the services under the State ) Act and also in the light of an interim order by the Supreme Court in April 2004 in PUCL, Rajasthan Vs.Union of India and to provide for reservation for SC/STs.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 3:31:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/High-Court-orders-quota-in-anganwadis/article16371361.ece