Appoint only meritorious persons to committees and commissions, HC tells T.N. govt.

Selection must be made beyond political affinities, aspirations and ideologies, says judge

The Madras High Court has impressed upon the need for the State government to appoint only meritorious women and men of integrity not only in all government institutions but also to various committees and commissions constituted by it for specific public purposes.

Justice SM Subramaniam wrote: “all such selection and appointments are to be made beyond the political affinities, aspirations and ideologies.” He said merit and integrity would suffer if political parties in power continue to appoint "their own men" to significant posts.

The judge said that selection and appointments must be made in a transparent manner by providing equal opportunity to all eligible women and men. When the merits of two or more candidates were found to be equal, then priority must be given to integrity and honesty.

The observations were made while disposing of a batch of writ petitions filed in 2013 and 2014 by Red Giant Movies, a film production and distribution firm run by Udhayanidhi Stalin, now an MLA, representing Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency.

The petitioner had accused the then government of not providing entertainment tax exemption to his movies despite all of them having been named in Tamil. His counsel R. Raman Laal said there was discrimination because the petitioner happened to be the son of M.K. Stalin.

It was also brought to the notice of the court that the committees constituted by then government, to watch the movies and take a call on providing tax exemption, were biased against the writ petitioner since those bodies had been constituted on the basis of political considerations.

Agreeing that there was certainly some substance in the charge levelled by the petitioner, the judge said no one could deny the bitter truth regarding large scale prevalence of favouritism, nepotism and corrupt activities among those holding powerful positions in governance.

“This court does not have any contrary opinion regarding judicial restraint to be exercised in adminstrative policies. However, the courts are bound to express anguish regarding happenings in public administration. That exactly why there is a clash between judicial restraint and judicial activism,” he wrote.

Holding that no specific relief could be granted to the writ petitioner due to efflux of time and also for want of evidence, the judge said the government was, nevertheless, expected to revisit the appointments made to various government bodies and formulate a policy to weed out favouritism, nepotism and corruption in public activities.

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