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Kethamreddi Venkata Ramana Reddi Vs. Government of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 3812 and 4951 of 1982
Judge
Reported inAIR1985AP73
ActsSree Venkateswara University Act, 1954 - Sections 37-A; Constitution of India - Articles 14, 19(1), 21, 171, 171(3), 173, and 191
AppellantKethamreddi Venkata Ramana Reddi
RespondentGovernment of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant AdvocateD. Seetharami Reddi and ;M.V. Ramana Reddy, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader
Excerpt:
.....of the people act, 1951. art. it is now well settled that the guarantee in art. 14 as well, since it cannot be said to be 'right, just and fair',but must be termed as arbitrary and oppressive; it is stated that this rule is conceived in the interests of teachers, as well as students, and in the interests of discipline......from the east mayalaseema teachers constituency in the elections held to the andhra pradesh legislative council. under art. 171(3)(c) of the constitution, 'as nearly as may be, one-twelfth of the total number of members of the legislative council of a state shall be elected by electorate, consisting of persons who have been for at least three years engaged in teaching in such educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than that of a secondary school , as may be prescribed by or under any law made by parliament.' the petitioner failed to get elected.2. before filing his nomination, the petitioner had informed the management of the college of his intention to contest from the said constituency. on 5-6-1982 the management issued a notice to the petitioner,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. The petitioner a Lecturer in N.B.K.R. Science & Arts College, Vidyanagar, Vakadu Taluk, Nellore Dist. Filed his nomination from the East Mayalaseema Teachers constituency in the elections held to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council. Under Art. 171(3)(c) of the Constitution, 'as nearly as may be, one-twelfth of the total number of members of the Legislative Council of a State shall be elected by electorate, consisting of persons who have been for at least three years engaged in teaching in such educational institutions within the State not lower in standard than that of a secondary school , as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament.' The petitioner failed to get elected.

2. Before filing his nomination, the petitioner had informed the management of the College of his intention to contest from the said constituency. On 5-6-1982 the management issued a notice to the petitioner, calling upon him to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for violating the existing Government orders under which one has to obtain prior permission from the concerned management before filing nomination to stand as a candidate in any election to the Legislative Body Parliament or a local authority. Subsequently by an order dt. 13-7-1982 the petitioner was suspended pending enquiry into the charge against him.

3. In W.P.No. 3812 of 1982, the petitioner is challenging the validity of G.O. Ms. No.438, Education dt 4-6-1980, which declares that 'no member of the teaching staff of any affiliated and recognised college shall file a nomination to stand as a candidate in any election to a Legislative Body, whether both Houses of the State Legislature or of Parliament or to any local authority, unless the resigns him office as such member and his resignation is accepted. Any contravention of this provision by such member shall be regarded as sufficient ground for removing him from the service.' This is a rule made by the Government in exercise of the rule-making authority conferred upon it by S.37-A of the Sree Venkateswara University Act, 1954. The College where the petitioner is working is affiliated to Sree Venkateswara University.

4. In W.P.No. 4951 of 1982, the petitioner is challenging the order dt. 13-7-1982, suspending him from service on the ground of violation of the aforesaid G.O.Ms.No.438. The G.O.is also questioned in this writ petition again.

5. A reading of Art. 171(3)(c) shows that the requirement of three years teaching qualification prescribed by the sub-clause applies only to the electors, but not to the candidates elected under this sub-clause. In other words, for getting elected under sub-Cl.(c) of Cl.(3), it is not necessary that the candidate should also be a teacher, or that he should have been engaged in teaching for at least three years. He can be a non-teacher as well; (vide S.Narayanaswami v. G. Pannerselvam, : [1973]1SCR172 , rendered with reference to sub-cl.(b) of cl.(3) of Art. 171, which is similarly worded and relates to the election of certain number of members by University graduates). The qualifications for contesting from teachers Constituency are to be found in Arts. 173 and 191 of the Constitution, as well as in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Art. 173 of the Constitution reads as follows:

'173. A person shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the Legislature of a State unless he -

a) is a citizen of India, and makes and subscribes before some person authorised in that behalf by the Election Commission an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule;

b) is, in the case of a seat in the Legislative Assembly, not less than twenty-five years of age and, in the case of a seat in the Legislative Council, not less than thirty years of age; and

c) possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.'

It is not alleged that the petitioner lacks any of the above qualifications.

6. Now coming to Art. 191, the only clause that is said to have been attracted is cl.(a) which says, that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State. '(a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State specified in the First Sch., other than an office declared by the Legislature of the State by law not to disqualify its holder. 'But, the petitioner is not holding any office of profit under the Government of the State. He is not holding any Government post. He is holding a post under a private management in a private College, though it is true that this College is affiliated to Sree Venkateswara University and receives grant-in-aid from the State. But, on that account, he cannot be called a person holding an office of profit under the Government of the State.

7. It is not necessary to refer to the provisions of Representation of the People Act relating to qualifications and disqualifications, since it is agreed by both the parties that the petitioner is not disqualified for contesting from the Teachers' Constituency, under any of the provisions of that Act.

8. This makes it clear that the petitioner is fully qualified to contest to the Legislative Council from the Teachers' Constituency, contemplated by Art. 171(3)(c) of the Constitution. Reference in this connection may usefully be made to a Bench decision of this Court in W.P.No.2628 of 1980, dt 11-7-1980, where, construing a similar rule contained in the Panchayat Samithis & Zilla Parishads Rules, it was held that the rule cannot be understood or construed as creating a disqualification for contesting to the Legislative Council.

9. But, the question arising in this Writ Petition is, whether the impugned rule made under S.37A of the Sree Venkateswara University Act - which is a rule relating to the conditions of service of teachers working in affiliated colleges - is valid, or not. S-37A of the Sree Venkateswara University Act, empowers the Government 'to make regulations regarding the classification, methods of recruitment, conditions of service, pay and allowances and discipline and conduct of the members of the teaching and non-teaching staff of the affiliated colleges and the oriental colleges.' The ground upon which the validity of the impugned rule is challenged is that, it violates the constitutional right of the petitioner to contest for the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council from the Teachers' Constituency, provided by Art. 171(3)(c) and that, it is an unreasonable restriction upon the fundamental right of the petitioner guaranteed to him under Art. 19(1) (c)and (g) of the Constitution.

10. A look at Art. 171 shows that the Constitution makers wanted to provide representation to several groups in the Legislative Council, with the ideal that such groups may not be able to obtain representation in the Legislative Assembly, because of the Universal-adult-franchise method of election to the legislative Assembly. The members of the Legislative Council is drawn from five sources viz.,(a) one-third to be elected by electorates consisting of members of Municipalities, District Boards, and such other local authorities in the State as Parliament may, by law specify; (b) one-twelfth to be elected by electorates consisting of persons residing in the State who have been for at least three years graduates of any University in the territory of India, or have been for at least three years in possession of qualifications prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament as equivalent to that of a graduate of any such University; (c) one-twelfth to be elected by electorates consisting of persons who have been for at least three years engaged in teaching in such educational institutions within the State, not lower in standard than that of a secondary school, as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament; (d) one-third to be elected by members of the Legislative Assembly of the State from amongst persons who are not members of the Assembly; and (e) the remainder to be nominated by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of cl.(5) of Art. 171.

11. Indubitably, the object is to provide a voice to these institutions and groups in the law-making process. While it is true that for contesting from the Teachers' Constituency (Art.171(3)(c)) one need not be a teacher, it cannot be denied that a teacher would be a more appropriate candidate to represent the teachers. Once it is held that a teacher in the employment of a private management is not disqualified from, and that indeed it would be more appropriate that a teacher should contest from the Teachers' Constituency, there appears no reason to punish him for exercising that right. The petitioner cannot be punished for exercising his lawful and legitimate right. The learned Government pleader argued that the right to contest or vote is not a constitutional right but only a legal right. In my opinion, this distinction has no relevance to the question at issue. Whether it is a constitutional right or a legal right, it is a very basic and extremely valuable right and the petitioner is entitled to exercise it; a Rule which seeks to punish him for doing so, has to be struck down as an unreasonable restriction upon the petitioner's fundamental right to liberty guaranteed to him by Art. 21 of the Constitution. It is now well settled that the guarantee in Art. 21 is not confined to mere freedom from physical restraint but that, it takes in all those aspects of life which go to make a man's life meaningful, complete and worth living; (see Maneka Gandhi's case : [1978]2SCR621 and Board of Trustees Port of Bombay v. D.R. Nadkarni, : (1983)ILLJ1SC ). The restriction is so unreasonable and arbitrary as to offend Art. 14 as well, since it cannot be said to be 'right, just and fair', but must be termed as arbitrary and oppressive; (see again Maneka Gandhi's case, : [1978]2SCR621 ).

12. It is explained in the counter-affidavit that the impugned rule has been made with a view to ensure that the teachers devote their full time to teaching and that, they do not indulge in politics or electoral battles to the prejudice of their teaching vocation. It is stated that this rule is conceived in the interests of teachers, as well as students, and in the interests of discipline. I am not impressed. When the Constitution has though it fit to create separate constituencies exclusively for teachers and has permitted them to elect their own representative to the Legislative Council, which is nothing but a political body, it is idle to contend that, by contesting in the elections from such Teachers' Constituencies, the teachers would be engaging themselves in undesirable political activity or that, on that account, the discipline or the teaching standards would suffer. Naturally, a teacher who is elected as a member of the Council under Art. 171(3)(c) cannot simultaneously continue as a teacher. He can be granted extraordinary leave, or a similar leave of absence during his membership of the Council, so that, after serving his term, he can come back as a teacher. Any other interpretation would really mean disqualifying the teachers from contesting from Teachers' Constituencies, which is not provided by the Constitution expressly, and would indeed, amount to reserving these seats for non-teachers only. If the intention of the Constitution-makers was that the members to be elected from Teachers' Constituencies ought not to be teachers, they would have said so expressly. I am, therefore, of the opinion that a teacher (not holding an office of profit under the Government), who is entitled to contest from a Teachers' Constituency, cannot at the same time be punished for exercising that right, by the management.

13. For the above reasons, it is held that the impugned G.O.has no application to teachers in private college, affiliated to Universities in the State. Inasmuch as the petitioner's suspension and the proposed disciplinary enquiry is based exclusively upon the said G.O., they are quashed as being violative of the petitioner's right to contest to the Legislative Council from the Teachers, Constituency.

14. The writ petitions are accordingly allowed; but in the circumstances, there shall be no order as to costs. Advocate's fee Rs.150/- in each.

15. Petition allowed.


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