patna high court

Patna High Court: A Public Interest Litigation (‘PIL') seeking a writ of quo warranto, had been filed challenging the appointment of Respondent 8 as the Chairman of the Bihar State Food Commission on the account that there was no advertisement for the vacancy and that the appointment was made on the account of Respondent 8 being a politician. The Division Bench of K. Vinod Chandran, C.J.*, and Partha Sarthy, J., noted that no recommendations were made from the various Departments and in that circumstance, Respondent 8 was appointed after considering the vast experience in social work and public affairs.

Background: The existing Chairperson of the Bihar State Food Commission (‘Commission') expired and there was a vacancy in the Commission. A Selection Committee was constituted, and letters were issued to Secretary of the General Administration Department; Home (Special) Department; Social Welfare Department, Co-operative Department, Health Department, Agriculture Department and Human Rights Commission to make recommendations for the post. There being no recommendation from any of the Departments, Respondent 8 was appointed.

Contentions on behalf of Petitioner and Respondents

The petitioner submitted that the appointment of Respondent 8 was in conflict with Section 16(3) of the National Food Security Act, 2013 and Rule 5 of the Bihar State Food Commission Rules, 2014. It contended that the appointment was made without any public advertisement and there was no transparency in the selection conducted. The petitioner argued that Respondent 8 was a politician and was not qualified to be appointed to the post which required some expertise and experience in the matter of providing food and nutrition to the downtrodden.

On the other hand, it was submitted that Respondent 8 had wide experience in public affairs and was also the Chairman of the Scheduled Caste Commission of Bihar and had a long history of public service, which made him imminently suitable for the post. Further, the appointment to the post of the Commission statutorily created did not go by public advertisement and hence, a Selection Committee was appointed for proper recommendation which was not fruitful. In such circumstances, appointment was made which could not be faulted and Respondent 8 had the necessary experience and expertise to handle the post of Chairman of the Commission.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court agreed with Respondent 8's submission that it was not proper for the petitioner to categorize Respondent 8 as a politician and thus, for that reason alone, deem him to be disabled from being appointed as the Chairman. Further the Court opined that the cases relied on by the petitioner did not vitiate the appointment of Respondent 8, who had wide experience in public affairs and dealing with the downtrodden and the marginalized people among the citizenry. The Court also noted that a politician who worked among the masses,were often chosen by the citizenry to be their representatives in the Legislature and the Parliament; giving them the authority to govern this land. Thus, the Court held that there could be no disability found on a politician, especially going by the qualifications required for the appointment of the Chairperson of the Commission. The Court observed that the mere fact that the biodata of Respondent 8 was available with the Department even prior to calling for recommendations did not disqualify him. Thus, the Court rejected the present PIL.

[Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life v. State of Bihar, Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 16611 of 2021, decided on 16-08-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Revisionist: Mr. Dinu Kumar, Ms. Ritika Rani, Mr. Ritu Raj, Advocates

For the Respondents: Mr. S. Raza Ahmad, AAG-5; Mr. Vishambhar Prasad, AC to AAG-5; Mr. Rajesh Kumar, Advocate

*Judgement authored by – Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran

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