Overturning a denial of work order citing the claimant’s place of residence, Judge VG Arun said in a ruling (WP-C No. 5835/2021) that the legal position that there can be no discrimination in public employment based on a candidate’s place of residence or domicile is no longer res integra (a matter in which the points of law have not been decided).
The High Court pointed out that the Supreme Court considered the issue in a 2002 judgment (Kailash Chand Sharma v State of Rajasthan) and held that discrimination based solely on residence or place of birth in public employment was prohibited, as it violates Article 16 (equal opportunity in public employment).
The Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2002 judgment was followed by the High Court in a series of rulings, the court said.
The case in the high court concerned a dissenting note issued by Annamanada panchayat in Thrissur on September 11, 2020 whereby nine members of the panchayat committee, including the vice president, were against the appointment of the petitioner, Liji AS of Vellangallur in Thrissur , for the post of Accountant and Data Entry Operator under MNREGS as she did not reside in the panchayat despite being the first rank holder in the rank list. It was alleged that the panchayat’s decision was to facilitate the nomination of another candidate who was a resident of the panchayat but scored the lowest points.
Barrister Thulasi K Raj, who represented the petitioner, argued that the panchayat’s decision not to appoint people from outside the panchayat violates article 16. There was no mention in the notice of employment that only people from the panchayat are eligible to apply or that panchayat residents are given preference in nomination, the lawyer said.
Ruling in favor of the applicant, the court held that the decision of the panchayat committee refusing the appointment of the applicant on the sole ground that she does not reside in Annamanada is liable to be annulled and so ordered. Liji AS Vs. Kerala State & Others