The Madras High Court on Wednesday set aside an order of the Assembly Secretary removing a Deputy Secretary-level officer who was appointed as Special Personal Assistant of DMK Treasurer and leader of the Opposition M K Stalin. Stalin had challenged the order. He had submitted that the Leader of Opposition was entitled to have a Personal Assistant, a post created vide a December 12, 1970 Government Order (GO), and extended from time to time.
As per the GO, the appointing authority is the Secretary of the Assembly and the choice of the candidate for the post is made by the Leader of Opposition.
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Accordingly, after Stalin became the Leader of Opposition earlier this year, Athiseshan was appointed as his Special Personal Assistant by upgrading the post vide an order dated August 8.
Against the backdrop of the en-masse suspension of DMK MLAs, including himself, on August 22 for a week, the Assembly Secretary had repatriated Athiseshan back to his parent department by downgrading the upgraded post.
Stalin’s counsel had then submitted that the Assembly Secretary’s order was “illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and tainted with mala fide”.
P Wilson, counsel for Stalin, on Wednesday said the personal assistant could continue in office till the termination of his or her services by the leader of opposition, or after he or she vacated his or her office, counsel said.
Justice R Subbaiah highlighted the previous verdicts of the Supreme Court which had established that a person appointed on deputation in a tenure post for a fixed period had no right to go back to his original post before the fixed term comes to an end.
Similarly, a person appointed so, has an indefeasible right to be treated fairly and equally. If such a person is appointed on deputation, the same cannot be cancelled without the consent of the person before whom that person is presently serving on deputation, the court said.
If the deputation is not a simple transfer and if the appointment is a tenure posting, the same cannot be curtailed.
After counsel requested to fix timeframe to implement this order, the judge directed the Assembly Secretary to place Athisheshan in terms of the original order posting him as special PA, at the earliest.