Tamil Nadu

HC quashes Government Order prescribing qualifications for SASTA director

‘Issue notification in accordance with MGNREG Act’

The Madras High Court on Thursday quashed a Government Order issued on May 21 and a consequential notification calling for applications to fill the post of director of Social Audit Society of Tamil Nadu (SASTA) and ordered issuance of a fresh notification after prescribing the qualifications strictly in accordance with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005 and the rules framed thereunder.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh passed the orders while allowing a writ petition filed by S. Sattanathan, who had served as the first Director of SASTA.

Intrusion in autonomy

The judge agreed with senior counsel R. Vaigai, representing the petitioner, that experience in social auditing had not been made mandatory in last year’s recruitment notification and hence it would pave way for government intrusion into the independence and autonomy of SASTA through appointment of bureaucrats.

“It appears from the government order as well as the counter affidavit filed by the Government of Tamil Nadu that an impression is created as if the government is the overall authority of SASTA. In the considered view of this court, an independent Director for SASTA is a very vital factor for effectively implementing the objects of the MGNREG Act, 2005 and Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011. At no point of time, the government or the local body should be given control.

“Till now, the Government of Tamil Nadu has managed to run the Society with the Secretaries and the Additional Secretaries, without appointing an independent Director for Social Audit. From the government order and the notification, it is clear that the government wants to continue to have this control by prescribing such qualifications which will suit the existing or retired bureaucrats.

“There is a clear distinction between a person who has experience in a regular audit and the person who has experience in social audit. If the Director does not possess the experience in social audit, it is not known as to how he will be able to appreciate the social audit report submitted to him,” the judge said and suggested that the State government take a cue from similar appointments made in other States.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 7:09:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-quashes-go-prescribing-qualifications-for-sasta-director/article30814731.ece

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