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Union of India v. P. Patturani - WP.No.12119 of 2003  RD-TN 850 (14 December 2005)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
The Hon'ble Mr. Justice P.SATHASIVAM
The Hon'ble Mrs. Justice CHITRA VENKATARAMAN WP.No.12119 of 2003
1. Union of India,
rep. by the
Director General of Posts,
Department of Posts,
New Delhi 110 011.
2. The Director of
Office of the
Post Master General,
Madurai 625 002.
3.The Senior Superintendent
of Post Offices,
Tuticorin. ... Petitioners -Vs-
The Central Administrative
Madras Bench. ... Respondents PRAYER: Petition filed under Article 226 of Constitution of India, praying this Court to issue a writ of Certiorari, calling for the records pertaining to O.A.No.922/2002 on the file of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Madras Bench, the second respondent herein and to quash the order dated 5.2.2003 passed therein.
For Petitioners:Mr.R.Santhanam, SCGSC
For 1st Respondent:Mr.R.Malaichamy
:O R D E R
(Order of the Court was made by P.SATHASIVAM, J.) Aggrieved by the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Madras Bench, dated 5.2.2003, made in O.A.No.922 of 2002, the Director General of Posts, the Director of Postal Services and the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices have filed the above writ petition.
2. The first respondent herein filed Original Application No.922 of 2002 before the Central Administrative Tribunal seeking to quash the orders passed by the first respondent therein dated 6.12.1993 and 18.9.1995, the order of the second respon ein dated 14.6.2002 as well as the order of the third respondent therein dated 3.9.2002, and consequently prayed for a direction to appoint her as GDS Branch Post Master at Sebathiapuram Post Office. It is seen that the post of Branch Post Master of Sebathiapuram fell vacant from 7.6.2001 due to the retirement of the incumbent. The post was earmarked for OBC and a local notification was issued on 8.3.2001 c alling for applications, fixing the last date as 9.4.2001. Subsequently, the Employment Exchange was also addressed to sponsor eligible candidates for the said post. Totally 18 Applications were received by the third petitioner/the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Tuticorin Division, and all the candidates were directed to appear on 24.5.2001 for certificate verification. The first respondent herein was one among the candidates sponsored by the Employment Exchange. Out of the 14 candidates attended for certificate verification, the first respondent alone was selected for the post of Branch Post Officer on 24.5.2001, as she was having property and income in her own name besides having secured highest marks among all the candidates.
3. When the appointment of the first respondent was scrutinised by the second petitioner herein/the Director of Postal Services, Office of the Post Master General, Southern Region, Madurai, it was noticed that the first respondent had not produced proper income certificate. Hence it was ordered to verify as to whether the property shown by her is an income generating property. On verification, it was found that the property is a dry land and is not yielding any income. In such circumstances, a show cause notice was issued to the first respondent. She subsequently produced another income certificate stating that there is a building in the land and the same is being let out to run a shop for a monthly rent of Rs.500/-. Again it was ordered to be verified about the genuineness of the building constructed in the land and it was noticed that there was only a thatched temporary shed. As per the instructions of the Government of India, the income certificate in proof of deriving income from the property should be produced before the last date for receipt of application and in any case before the date of certificate verification. After finding that the property is not yielding any income, the selection of the first respondent herein was set aside by the second petitioner by memo dated 14.6 .2002 and the first respondent was relieved from the post on 17.6.200 2. Thereafter, fresh applications were called for by the Department on 3.9.2002.
4. Challenging the order of cancellation of her appointment, the first respondent filed O.A.No.922 of 2002 before the Tribunal for quashing the same. The Tribunal, by the impugned order dated 5.2.2003, accepted the case of the applicant therein and following its earlier decision in O.A.No.12 of 2002, quashed the orders dated 14.6.2002 and 3.9.2002 and also directed the Department to reinstate the applicant in the post of GDS, BPM, Sebathiapuram Post Office. Questioning the same, the Postal Department has filed the above writ petition.
5. Heard Mr.R.Santhanam, learned Senior Central Government Standing Counsel for the petitioners and Mr.R.Malaichamy, learned counsel appearing for the first respondent.
6. The only point for consideration in this writ petition is whether the Central Administrative Tribunal is justified in quashing the orders dated 14.6.2002 and 3.9.2002. It is also relevant to find out as to whether the selection on the basis of "adequate means of livelihood" in terms of the circular dated 6.12.1993 of the Department is an absolute condition or preferential condition, required to be considered for the said post.
7. In order to appreciate the questions answered by the Tribunal, it is relevant to refer to the relevant rules applicable for recruitment of ED agents (now it is called GDS). Section 4 speaks about the method of recruitment. The minimum age limit for employment will be 18 years and the maximum will be 65 years. The educational qualification is prescribed as Matriculation. Regarding the income and ownership of property, the relevant rule says that,
"The person who takes over the agency (EDSPM/EDBPM) must be one who has an adequate means of livelihood. The person selected for the post of EDSPM/EDBPM must be able to offer space to serve as the agency premises for postal operations. The premises must be such as will serve as a small postal office with provision for installation of even a PCO (Business premises such as shops, etc., may be preferred)." ( Emphasis supplied) We are not concerned with the other conditions such as residence, security, preferential categories, etc.
8. It is not disputed by the Department that the first respondent herein secured highest marks and also satisfied the educational qualification. The only dispute is with regard to the income and ownership of property. The learned Senior Central Government Standing Counsel, by drawing our attention to the letter dated 3.1.1994, issued by the Post Master General, Southern Region, Madurai, to all SSPOs/SPOs, Southern Region, contended that in order to satisfy "adequate means of livelihood", the person who applies for the post shall possess landed properties or immovable assets. In our case, though the first respondent herein has produced the settlement deed dated 27.4.2001, it is the claim of the Department that on verification, they came to know that the said land is a dry land and is not fetching any income.
9. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the first respondent has brought to our notice that the Tahsildar, Srivaikundam, has issued a certificate dated 3.5.2001 stating that she is getting an annual income of Rs.24,000/- by doing tailoring work and by conducting tuition. She also produced solvency certificate dated 7.5.2001, issued by the Tahsildar, srivaikundam, which shows that the first respondent-Patturani owns 0.01.5 acre of punja land in Survey No.303/4A in Sayarpuram village and that the market value of the same is Rs.90,000/-. The first respondent has also produced income certificate issued by the Tahsildar, Srivaikundam, to show that she is getting rental income of Rs.6,000/- per annum. However, according to the Department, the verification through their agency shows that though the first respondent herein possesses land, the same is not fetching any income. In other words, according to them, the applicant/first respondent was not having adequate means of livelihood and failed to satisfy the condition relating to the income and ownership of the property. With reference to the same, the learned counsel appearing for the first respondent has brought to our notice the relief prayed by her before the Tribunal, which reads as under, "(1) To call for the records of the 1st Respondent pertaining to his order made in (1) No.17-104/93-ED & Trg., dated 6.12.1993 and No.17-104/91-ED & Trg. Dated 18.9.1995 and the 2nd Respondent pertaining to his order made in (2) Memo No.STC/21-9/01 dated 13/14.6.2002 and (3) the 3rd Respondent pertaining to his Memo No.B3/Sebathiapuram, dated 3.9.2002 and set aside the same; consequently,
(2) Directing the Respondents to appoint the Applicant as GDS Branch Post Master at Sebathiapuram Post Office with all service benefits." The learned counsel also heavily relied on the earlier decision of the Tribunal of Madras Bench in O.A.No.12 of 2002, the decision of Kerala High Court reported in 2002 (1) Kerala Law Times 504 (Director General, Posts Vs. CAT, Ernakulam Bench) as well as the decision (Full bench) of the Tribunal of Bangalore Bench in a batch of cases in O.A.Nos.813 of 2001, 963 of 2001 dated 2.12.2002. A perusal of the above orders clearly show that the contention of the Department that the condition relating to property/income, being one of the essential criteria for selection to the EDA post, is not a relevant one and that such condition is not maintainable. For our specific question, the learned Senior Central Government Standing Counsel has replied that the Department has not challenged the decision of the Bangalore Bench, Kerala High Court as well as the order of the Madras Bench in O.A. No.12 of 2002 by way of an appeal before the Supreme Court. In other words, in the States of Karnataka and Kerala, in view of the decisions referred to above, the Department cannot insist upon the condition relating to property/income being one of the essential criteria for selection.
10. In the impugned order, the Tribunal, taking note of the above decisions, accepted the claim of the applicant and quashed the impugned orders therein and also issued direction for appointment of the applicant to the post of GDS, BPM, Sebathiapuram Post Office. We also perused the relevant Rules as mentioned above and the decisions referred above. At this juncture, it is also useful to refer the recent decision of the Supreme Court reported in 2004 AIR SCW 5490 (Suman Verma v. Union of India). In that decision, though the person, who applied for the post possessed agricultural land, her case was ignored by the Department on the ground that the same was not getting any income. The said decision was set aside by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bihar, which was affirmed by the High Court of Patna. When the matter was taken up before the Supreme Court, their Lordships held thus, "16. In view of settled legal position, in our judgment, CAT as well as the High Court were right in holding that though respondent No.6 was eligible having possessed agricultural land, her case was ignored by the authorities and hence, the action was illegal and improper. In view of the fact that respondent No.6 was more meritorious, since she had obtained more marks than the appellant, the direction of CAT to appoint her cannot be said to be ille gal or unlawful. The said direction is, therefore, not interfered with. CAT has also referred to para 2 of the Executive Order dated May 10, 1991, issued by the Director General of Post, New Delhi, which reads thus: "The deciding factor for the selection of EDBPMs/ED SPMs should be the income and property and not the marks, has been examined threadbare but cannot be agreed to as this will introduce an element of competitiveness in the matter of possession of property and earning or income for determining the merit of candidates for appointment as ED Agents. Proof of financial status is not only subject to manipulation but is also detrimental to merit. When the Constitution of India guarantees equal opportunity to all for their advancement, the reasonable course would be offer ED employment to the person who secured maximum marks in the examination which made him eligible for the appointment, provided the candidate has the prescribed minimum level of property and income so that he has adequate means of li velihood apart from the ED Allowance."
After holding so, the Honourable Supreme Court dismissed the Civil Appeal. It is clear that if the candidate has secured prescribed minimum level of property coupled with maximum marks, it is but proper on the part of the Department to consider the same as sufficient qualification.
11. In the light of the fact that the Tribunal considered all the above mentioned relevant facts including the decision of the Full Bench of Bangalore Tribunal and Kerala High Court, as referred above, and in the absence of any other material, we are unable to accept the stand taken by the Department.
12. Consequently, the writ petition fails and the same is hereby dismissed. No costs.
The Registrar, Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai.
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