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Jukanti Ramesh & Others v/s The State of Telangana Rep. by its Principal Secretary to Govt., Youth Advancement Tourism & Culture Department

    Writ Petition (PIL) No. 320 of 2017

    Decided On, 10 July 2018

    At, In the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad


    For the Petitioners: K.V. Raja Sree, Advocate. For the Respondent: R1 & R2: Learned Additional Advocate General.

Judgment Text

Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ.

1. This writ petition is filed challenging the action taken by the third respondent Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi in the matter of appointing artists.

2. We have heard learned counsel for the petitioners and learned Additional Advocate General for respondents 1 and 2, who also made submissions on behalf of the third respondent.

3. The plea of the petitioners is that though the persons appointed as artists in the Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi are paid out of public funds and such employment is public employment, 550 persons have been appointed without any competi

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tive selection, thereby excluding opportunity to other persons who could aspire for such employment. It is contended and argued that no advertisement was issued inviting applications from eligible hands and no selection was duly conducted as enjoined by the governing legal principles.

4. With the avowed object of disseminating information on different Government policies and schemes and also to create awareness and a sense of pride among the people about the unique cultural identity of Telangana, the Government of Telangana decided to constitute Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi as per Memo dated 09.02.2015 and the Director of Department of Culture was to be the Member Secretary of that institution. The Chairman of that Sarathi was also appointed. The Government considered all aspects and accorded permission to the Member Secretary to appoint artists not exceeding 550 as proposed by the Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi.

5. To our query, we are told by the learned Additional Advocate General that Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi is a society registered under the aegis of the State Government and the Government provides funds to that institution for carrying out its purposes and activities.

6. Obviously therefore, public funds in the hands of the State Government are utilized to pay emoluments to the artists employed by the third respondent. Such employment is public employment. Under such circumstances, Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India clearly apply to exclude any hostile discrimination or structured exclusion of people who are eligible to compete in the selection as artists. The undisputed fact of the matter remains that applications were not invited by advertising the requirement to appoint artists. It appears to have been essentially a pick and choose mode made by the President and Member Secretary, going by the submissions of the learned Additional Advocate General. May be that those at the helm of affairs of the third respondent are well versed in the field of literature and art and they may also be quite familiar with the group of people who are involved in the field of literature, art, stage, drama, music and the like. However, we have to necessarily caution ourselves that the structured constitutional scheme, in particular, that contained in Part III thereof, does not provide any room for such pick and choose appointments. Even if the establishment is ultimately making the choice of the best of the best available and appointing the most competent ones to hold the posts; transparency in intake of persons who aspire to join public employment is an inexcusable hallmark inherent and inbuilt in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. We have seen the quantum of emoluments. There is no voluntary service by the appointees as suggested, though faintly, by the learned Additional Advocate General. Whatever the category of posts may be; or however short the time duration those posts and of such employment may be; principles of transparency, cannot be excluded. Similarly, there cannot be any reason to hold that short duration posts could be filled up otherwise than by opening up the doors of appointment to all persons available in the field of choice, particularly when there is no primary legislation or duly authorized subordinate legislation governing the employment in the service of the third respondent.

7. The appointments of the 550 persons would have happened sometime early in 2015. In July, 2018, we have to necessarily note that three years of their such officiation has gone through. This means that without requisite selection, there had been a constructive exclusion, may be, not mala fide, all persons, who would have been otherwise eligible for competition from the open market. The gaze of Article 21 also falls with a gloomy stare at the situation in hand.

8. On the given fact scenario, having particular regard to the time lag between early 2015 and now, as well as noticing that those 550 appointees are not before us, we are of the view that it is the situational need that the third respondent carries out the due modality of selection in accordance with norms in consonance with settled principles of law, by advertising all the posts, including the 550 which are occupied by different persons, and by carrying out a competitive selection by giving opportunity also to the 550 persons who are now in office, to compete in such selection. This would justify the situational requirement to balance the rights of those persons who have been excluded as well as the eligibility of those who are now working. We would hasten to add that this judgment does not stand in the way of the third respondent or the Government considering the enhancement of the total number of posts of artists who could be appointed under the third respondent, Telangana Samskruthika Sarathi, having regard to the practical wholesomeness of the issues in hand; also bearing in mind the institutional need.

For the aforesaid reasons, this writ petition is ordered directing that the third respondent shall notify all the posts of artists in its service and carry on the requisite selection in terms of what is stated above. The process thereof shall start within a period of three weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order and shall be completed, without fail, within a period of three months therefrom. It is clarified that this order does not preclude the continuance of the persons, who are now holding office as artists; however that their such continuance would depend upon the result of the selection process as ordered hereinabove.

Pending miscellaneous petitions, if any, shall stand closed. No order as to costs.