K. Rajendran & Ors V. State Of Tamil Nadu & Ors

K. Rajendran & Ors V. State Of Tamil Nadu & Ors in India

K. Rajendran & Ors V. State Of Tamil Nadu & Ors [1982] Insc 46; Air 1982 Sc 1107; 1982 (3) Scr 628; 1982 (2) Scc 273; 1982 (1) Scale 342 (15 April 1982)

Court Judgment Information

  • Year: 1982
  • Date: 2 Scc 273; 1982
  • Court: Supreme Court of India
  • INSC: [1982] INSC 46

Text of the Court Opinion



1982 AIR 1107 1982 SCR (3) 628 1982 SCC (2) 273 1982 SCALE (1)342

Citator Info

RF 1985 SC 724 (5) RF 1987 SC1467 (3) R 1989 SC1988 (18)


Constitution of India 1950, Articles 14. 19 (1) (g), 32 and 311 (2) & Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village Officers Act 1981, Ss.2 (e), 3 and 5. State enactment-Abolition of civil posts-Posts of parttime village Officers abolished-Introduction of whole-time village administrative officer-Whether valid and legal.

Civil Service-Civil post-Abolition of post-Whether government has a right-Abolition of post and abolition of cadre-Distinction-Rights of the incumbent of the post.


In the State of Tamil Nadu the administration was carried on at the village level by a chain of officers in regular gradation one above the other since the commencement of the Christian era. This system known as the barabaluti system consisted of twelve functionaries :(1) headman, (2) karnam or accountant, (3) shroff or notazar, (4) nirganti, (5) toty or taliary, (6) potter, (7) smith, (8) jeweller.

(9) carpenter, (10) barber, (11) washerman and (12) astrologer. The first five rendered service to the Government. By the end of the nineteenth century, two Acts were enacted for the purpose of regulating the work of these village offices.

The Madras Proprietary States’ Village Service Act, 1894 (Madras Act No. 11 of 1894) dealt with three classes of village officers viz. village accountants, village headman and village watchman. It provided for their appointment, remuneration and summary punishment of misconduct or neglect of duty. The Madras Hereditary Village offices Act 1895 (Madras Act No. 111 of 1895) regulated the succession to certain other hereditary village offices and provided for the appointment of persons to hold such offices and the control of the holders thereof. Under both these statutes, the village offices devolved on a single heir according to the general custom and rule of primogeniture governing succession to impartible zamidaris. In cases to which the aforesaid two statutes were inapplicable provision was made by the Standing orders promulgated by the Board of Revenue, which were known as the Board’s Standing orders for appointing village officers on a hereditary basis.

629 The distinctive features of the service conditions of the village officers appointed under the aforesaid two Acts or the Board’s Standing orders were that they were part-time employees of the Government, they were appointed directly by the Revenue officer, the records maintained by them could be retained in their houses, no fixed hours of duty were prescribed, they were not constituted into any distinct service, could not be transferred outside their district, and that they were paid honorarium for the services that they discharged. The Fundamental Rules applicable to all other State Government employees, the Pension Rules, and the Leave Rules were not applicable to these village officers.

This Court in Gazula Dasaratha Rama Rao v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & ors. [1961] 2 SCR 931 having held that section 6 (1) of the Madras Act No. 3 of 1895 was void as it contravened Article 16 (2) of the Constitution, instructions were issued by the Board of Revenue on March 12, 1962 that in respect of future vacancies in village offices governed by the Madras Act No. 2 of 1894, and the Madras Act No. 3 of 1895, the appointments should be made on a temporary basis, and the State Legislature enacted the Madras Proprietary Estates’ Village Service and the Madras Hereditary Village offices (Repeal) Act, 1968 repealing the 1894 and 1895 Acts.

Pursuant to section 3 of this Act, the State Government promulgated that Tamil Nadu Village officers Service Rules, 1970 which provided for the constitution of the Tamil Nadu Village officers Service, consisting of (i) Village headman, additional village headman, (ii) village karnam, additional village karnam, and (iii) talayari and nirganti and the method of recruitment to the said posts.

In the year 1973, the Administrative Reforms Commission set up by the State Government recommended that the existing part-time village officers should be replaced by regular whole-time transferable public servants who should form part of the Revenue hierarchy. The State Government accepted this recommendation and promulgated on May 17, 1975 the Tamil Nadu Village officers (appointed under B.S. Os) Service Rules 1974. Thereafter on October 9, 1978 the Tamil Nadu Village officers (appointed under B.S.Os) Service Rules 1978 were issued fixing the age of retirement of village officers at 60 years.

On November 13, 1980, the Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officers ordinance, 1980 was promulgated abolishing the posts of part-time village officers in the State. The ordinance was later replaced by the Tamil Nadu abolition of posts of part-time Village officers Act 1981, which provided for the appointment of Village Administrative officers. By section 3 of the Act, the posts of part-time village officers were abolished with elect from November 14, 1980 and every officer holding a post so abolished ceased to hold such post, and section S provided for payment of compensation to those who ceased to be part-time village officers.

The petitioners in their writ petition to this Court contended that the ordinance and the Act were violative of Article 19 (1) (g); Article 311 (2), and contravened Article 14 of the Constitution. The State Government contested the petitions and contended that the State Government being of the opinion that the 630 system of part-time Village-officers was out-moded and did not fit in with the modern needs of village administration, after careful consideration taken the policy decision to abolish all the posts of part-time village officers on grounds of administrative necessity and to introduce a system of whole time officers to be incharge of the village administration. To achieve this, the ordinance was promulgated on November 14, 1980 which was later replaced by the Act. It was further contended, that since by the ordinance and the Act, certain posts had been abolished, the petitioners who were incumbents of the abolished posts could not raise any of the grounds raised by them.

Dismissing the petitions,


1. (i) The power to abolish a civil post is inherent in the right to create it. The Government has always the power, subject to the constitutional provisions to reorganise a department to provide efficiency and to bring about economy. It can abolish an office or post in good faith. The action to abolish a post should not be just a pretence taken to get rid of an inconvenient incumbent.

[643 G] American Jurisprudence 2d vol.63 p. 648-649: H. Eliot Kaplan-The Law of Civil Service pp 214-215 referred to.

In the instant case the abolition of the posts of village officers was sought to be achieved by a piece of legislation passed by the State Legislature, namely the Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officers Act, 1981. Want of good faith or malafides cannot be attributed to the Legislature. [646 A] (ii) The Act is not violative or Article 19 (1) (g) as it does not affect the right of any of the incumbents of the posts to carry on any occupation of their choice even though they may not be able to stick on to the posts which they were holding. [647 C] Fertilizer Corporation Kamgar Union (Regd) Sindri & ors. v. Union of India & ors. [1981] 2 SCR 52, referred to.

2. (i) The doctrine of pleasure incorporated in Article 310 cannot be controlled by any legislation; but the exercise of that power by the President or the Governor, is however made subject to the other provisions of the Constitution, one of them being Article 311, which is not made subject to any other provision of the Constitution and is paramount in the field occupied by it. [648 D-E] (ii) The termination of service of a Government servant consequent upon the abolition of posts does not involve punishment at all and therefore does not attract Article 311(2). [654 B; 654-E] Parashotam Lal Dhingra v. Union of India [1958] SCR 828 at 841, Moti Ram Deka etc. v. General Manager, N.E.F., Railways, Maligaon, Pandu etc.

631 [1964] 5 SCR 683 and P.V. Naik 8. Ors. v. state of Maharashtra & Anr., AIR 1967 Bom. 482, referred to.

(iii) If a post is not a special post and its incumbent is a member of a cadre his rights as a member of the cadre should be considered before deciding whether he has ceased to be a government employee on the abolition of the post. On such scrutiny it is likely that the services of another member of the cadre may have to be terminated or some other member of the cadre may have to be reverted to a lower post from which he may have been promoted to the cadre in question by the application of the principle of ‘last come, first go’. If, however, where the post abolished is a special post or where an entire cadre is abolished and there is no lower cadre to which the members of the abolished cadre can reasonably be reverted, the application of this principle may not arise at all. [653 C-D] State of Mysore v. H. Papanna Gowda & Anr. etc. [1970] INSC 240; [1971] 2 S.C.R. 831, referred to.

(iv) In modern administration, it is necessary to recognise the existence of the power with the Legislature or the Executive to create or abolish posts in the civil services of the State. The volume of administrative work, the measures of economy and the need for streamlining the administration to make it more efficient may induce the State Government to make alterations in the staffing patterns of the civil service necessitating either the increase or the decrease in the number of posts. This power is inherent in the very concept of governmental administration. To deny that power to the Government is to strike at the very roots of proper public administration.

This power to abolish a post which may result in the holder thereof ceasing to be a Government servant has got to be recognised, but any action legislative or executive taken pursuant to that power is always subject to judicial review.

(656 A)) M. Ramanatha Pillai v. The State of Kerala Anr. [1973] INSC 149; (1974) 1 S.C.R. 515, Champaklal Chimanlal Shah v. The Union of India [1964] S S.C.R. 190, Satish Chandra Anand v. The Union of India [1953] S.C.R. 655, Shyam Lal v. State of U.P. and Union of India [1955] 1 S.C.R. 26, State of Haryana v. Des Raj Sangar of Anr. [1976] 2 S.C.R. 1034, referred to.

Abdul Khalik Renzu & Ors. v. The State of Jammu and Kashmir A.I.R. 1965 J & K 15, overruled.

In the instant case it cannot be said that the State Act by which the village officers in the State of Tamil Nadu were abolished, contravenes Article 311 (2). [657 F] (v) The posts of village officers which were governed by the Madras Act II of 1894, the Madras Act III of 1895 and the Board s Standing orders were feudalistic in character and the appointment to these posts were governed by the law of primogeniture, the family in which the applicant was born, the village in which he was born, and the fact whether he owned any property in the village or not. These factors are alien to modern-administrative service and clearly 632 opposed to Articles 14 and 16. The Administrative Reforms Commission rightly recommended their abolition and reorganisation of the village service. [657 H; 658 A C] (vi) Having regard to the abolition of similar village offices in the neighbouring States of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and the agitation in the State of Tamil Nadu for reorganisation of village service, the decision to abolish the village offices which were feudalistic in character and an anachronism in the modern age cannot be said to be arbitrary or unreasonable. [660 C] R. Shankaranarayana & Ors. v. the State of Mysore & ors. A.I.R. 1966 S.C. 1571. B.H. Honnalige Gowda v. State of Mysore & Anr., A.I.R. 1964 Mysore 84, referred to.

3. (i) Any classification under Article 14 should satisfy two tests: (i) that there exists an intelligible differentia between those who are grouped together and those who are not included in the group, and (ii) that there exists a reasonable nexus between the differentia and the object for which classification is made. [662 F] (ii) Upto December 16, 1970 all appointments to Village officers were being made under the two Madras Acts and the Board’s Standing orders on the basis of factors dealt with therein, but after December 16, 1970 recruitment was made in accordance with the Tamil Nadu Village officers Service Rules 1970. By these rules a new service of part-time Village officers was constituted and the;, persons who were appointed were paid a fixed amount every month by way of remuneration. Under the Act Of 1981 and the Rules framed thereunder the Village Administrative officers were to be appointed and to be recruited directly. The posts were no longer treated as part-time posts and holders thereof were full time government officials entitled to draw salary every month. Even though the Village officers appointed after December 16, 1970 were in a way different from the village officials appointed prior to that date the two cannot be equated with the new Village officers who were to be appointed under the 1981 Act and the rules made thereunder.

It cannot therefore be stated that Article 14 of the Constitution has been violated in abolishing the posts held by those appointed after December 16, 1970. [662 H; 663 A-E;

663 H; 664A] 4 (i) The State Government will give effect to the memorandum filed on its behalf in the case of those who possess the minimum general qualification prescribed under the Act and the Rules. The State Government shall re-employ all such persons who have not crossed the age of superannuation and who are selected in the new cadre. Until they are so selected they will not be paid any remuneration.

Even if they are re-employed the amount paid to them pursuant to the interim orders will not be recovered. [668 G-H; 669 A] (ii) The compensation, if any payable by the State Government under section s of the Act to those who cease to be village officers shall be adjusted against the amount paid pursuant to the interim orders, and any amount in excess of the compensation, shall not be recoverable. [669 B-C] 633

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition Nos 5880-82, 6176A 77, 5921, 5922, 6220, 6426-27, 6355-56, 6264-70,6276, 6178-79, 6191, 1718 of 1980 and 220-22, 2113 of 1981. (Under Article 32 of the Constitution) K K Venugopal, (6355-56 of 1980) (In W P. Nos. 6212, 6427 & 5880-82/80) F.S. Nariman, (In W.P. Nos. 6264-70/80) R.K Gargo, (In W.P. Nos. 6191 & 6426/80), S.N. Kackar, (In W.P. Nos: 5921/80 & 220/81 and G.L. Sanghi, (In W.P. No. 1718/81) for the Petitioners.

C.S. Vaidyanathan, Vineet Kumar, Parthasarathi, A.T.M.

Sampath. Miss Lily Thomas, N.A. Subramanium, Naresh Kumar, Mahakir Singh and S. Srinivasan for the Petitioners.

Lal Narayan Singh, Attorney General (In W.P. No 5880180) M.R Banerjee, Addl. Solicitor General (In W.P. No. 6355/80) R. Rrishnamoorthy, Adv. Genl. T.N. (In W.P. Nos.

1718 & 6276/ 1980) for the Respondents. D Dr. Y. S. Chitale, (In W.P. No. 6426/80), L. M.

Singhvi, (In W.P. 6264/80) Mr. Laxmi Kant Pandey and S.S.

Ray, (In W.P. 6212 of 1980) for the Respondents.

A.V. Rangam, (In all matters) for the Respondents. E The Judgment of the Court was delivered by VBNKATAR MIAH. J. In these writ petitions, the petitioners who were holders of posts of part-time village officers in the State of Tamil Nadu or associations of such persons have questioned the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officers ordinance, 1980 Tamil Nadu ordinance No. 10 of 1980) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the ordinance’) and the Tamil Nadu Abolition of posts of part-time Village officers Act, 1981 (Tamil Nadu Act No. 3 of 1981) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act) which replaced the ordinance. The total number of posts abolished by the Act is 23,010 In Tamil Nadu, as in other parts of India, the village has been the basic unit of revenue administration from the earliest times of which we have any record. The administration was being carried on at the lowest level by a chain of officers in regular gradation one above the other at the commencement of the Christian era. The 634 same system has been in vogue uptil now. It was generally known as the borabaluti system ordinarily consisting of twelve functionaries. In Tamil Nadu, these functionaries were known as (I) headman, (2) karnan or accountant, (3) shroff or notazar, (4) nirganti, (5) toty or taliary, (6) potter, (7) smith, (8) jeweller, (9) carpenter, (10) barber, (11) washerman and (12) astrologer. Of them, the first five only rendered service to Government.

The headman who goes by various names such as monigar, potail, naidoo, reddy, peddakapu etc. is an important officer. He represented the Government in the village, collected the revenue and had also magisterial and judicial powers of some minor nature. As a magistrate he could punish persons for petty offences and as a Judge could try suits for sums of money or other personal property upto Rs. 10/in value, there being no appeal against his decision. With the consent of the parties, he could adjudicate civil claims upto Rs. 100 in value. The headman has been generally one of 1 the largest landholders in the village having considerable influence over its inhabitants. The karnam or the village accountant maintained all the village accounts, inspected all fields in the village for purposes of gathering agricultural statistics, fixation of assessment and prevention and penalisation of encroachments, irregular use of water and verification of tenancy and enjoyment. The nirgantis guarded the irrigation sources and regulated the use of water. The toty or taliary assisted the village accountant in his work. By the end of the nineteenth century, two Acts were brought into force in the Presidency of Madras for the purpose of regulating the work of some of the village officers. The Madras Proprietary states’ Village Service Act, 1894 (Madras Act No. II of 1894) dealt with three classes of village officers viz. village accountants, village headmen and village watchmen or police officers in permanently settled estates, in unsettled palaiyams and in inam villages. It provided for their appointment and remuneration and for the – prevention and summary punishment of misconduct or neglect duty on their part and generally for securing their efficiency. The Madras Hereditary Village offices Act, 1895 (Madras Act No. III of 1895) regulated the succession to certain other hereditary village offices in the Presidency of Madras; for the hearing and disposal of claims to such offices or the emoluments annexed thereto;

for the appointment of persons to hold such offices and the control of the holders thereof. The Village officers dealt with by this Act were (i) 635 village munsifs, (ii) potels, monigars and peddakapus, (iii) karnams, (iv) nirgantis, (v) vettis, totis and tar dalgars and (vi) talayaris in ryotwari villages or inam villages, which for the purpose of village administration, were grouped with ryotwari villages.

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