karnataka high court

Public interest means interest of State and Citizens- Karnataka HC

Public interest plays an important role in every field. Profession, academics, and career are all complementary and supplementary to each other and constant competition of opportunity plays around to help an individual to secure and understand his/her worth. The same had been held in the case of Sri. Siddaraju v. State of Karnataka & Ors.,( WRIT PETITION NO. 11455 OF 2020 (S-TR). The court was of the view that “Before parting with this writ petition, this  Court deems it necessary to remind the State Government and the top Executives that appointments and transfers are required to be made in “public interest”.

The facts of the case initiates when the petitioner who is a cadre of Chief Engineer was appointed as Director of Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, by an appointment dated 06.12.2019. The petitioner is aggrieved by the order passed by the respondent-State Government on 07.10.2020 by which respondent No.4 was named Director of KPTCL and the petitioner was appointed as Director of KPTCL.

As Managing Director of Karnataka Limited’s Power Company (‘PCKL’ for short), by virtue of another order given on the same day. It is claimed that before the challenged order dated 07.10.2020 was passed, the fourth respondent was the Managing Director of ‘PCKL’.

The learned counsel on behalf of the petitioner submitted that the appointment of the petitioner as Director of KPTCL on 06.12.2019 was certainly under the pleasure of the Government because the order of 06.12.2019 explicitly indicates that the appointment of the petitioner was ‘until further orders’; however, it is submitted that appointments made under the pleasure of the Government do not indicate an arbitrary license to function.

On the other hand, the invocation by the Government of the doctrine of pleasure must be for fair and compelling reasons and cannot be at the hands of the State Government’s sweet will, whims and fancy, but it can be used only for legitimate reasons and the power referred to in the doctrine of pleasure can be used fairly and exclusively for the public good. In the case of the fourth respondent, the learned Senior Counsel argued that these were the terms used by the Hon’ble Division Bench when he challenged the order of this Court’s Coordinate Bench.

When referring to Hon’ble’s decision in question it was submitted to the Division Bench that when the doctrine of enjoyment was invoked by the State Government, it was appropriate to state legitimate reasons either in the proposal or in the approval granted by the Honorable Chief Minister. It is argued that the proposal did not contain any legitimate reasons for putting an end to the services of the petitioner as Director, KPTCL, in the form of notes put forward before the Hon’ble Chief Minister, and neither did the Hon’ble Chief Minister provide reasons for approving the proposal.

On the basis of the evidence, it was submitted that the fourth respondent was due to reach the age of superannuation on 31.01.2021, while on 30.04.2021 the applicant was due to reach the age of superannuation. It is argued that it is difficult to understand what led the respondent-State Government, on the verge of his retirement, to nominate the fourth respondent as Director, KPTCL. In addition, it was alleged that the fourth respondent had no experience in the field of transmission. Since November 2019, the petitioner had earlier served as Chief Engineer, Transmission Zone, Bagalkot, and as Director (Transmission).

The respondent counsel on the other hand had submitted that if this writ were to succeed the petitionerPetition, and if the Court were to set aside the challenged petition, it will be of no benefit to the order dated 07.10.2020, since the petitioner took over as Managing Director, the petitioner has MEI Limited’s Director on 16.10.2020.

Thus the Court had held that “Therefore, this Court is of the opinion that in the interest of the KPTCL, the State and the citizens, it would not be proper in directing the State Government to reconsider the appointment of the respondent No.4 as Director, KPTCL.”

Public interest means the interest of the State and the citizens. If the same is followed in letter and spirit, the powers that be would not have to face inconvenient questions and such actions would considerably reduce unwanted litigations. It is sad that though this Court and the Hon’ble Apex Court have time and again reminded the powers that be of their constitutional obligation to act in accordance with law, both in letter and spirit, orders of appointment and transfers are made with utter disregard to the reminders and have become source of genuinely avoidable litigations.

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