1. In this writ petition at the instance of the Tamil Nadu Government Officials Union, Manaparai Taluk, Tiruchy District, represented by its Secretary, the petitioner-Union has prayed for the issue of a writ of certiorarified mandamus calling for the records relating to the order of first respondent herein in its Letter No. 26968/81-18, Health, dated 7th January, 1984, and quash the same and also for a further direction that the respondents should take into account the period of service rendered by the Health Inspectors prior to 1st April, 1973 for purposes of other service benefits.
2. The circumstances leading to the filing of the writ petition are as under. Nearly about 19 persons, whose names are listed in paragraph 2 of the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, were originally appointed as Health Inspectors at the Gandhigram Rural Institute and Pilot Health Project, Gandhigram, Dindigul, Madurai District (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rural Institute'). Though the Health Inspectors were working under the management of the Rural Institute, they were supervised and controlled by the State Government through the District Family Welfare Officer. The salary of the Health Inspectors was also being paid only by the State Government. By G.O.Ms. No. 1456, Health and Family Planning Department, dated 12th June, 1973, the state Government took over the administrative control over the Rural Institute's Regional Family Planning Welfare Centre with reference to Athoor Block. The Government further directed that the Health Inspectors, numbering about 20, in the Block shall be taken over from the Institute of Health and Family Planning, Gandhigram, with retrospective effect from 1st April, 1973. By yet another G.O.Ms. No. 2131, Health and Family Planning Department, dated 27th August, 1973, certain amendments to the Special Rules for the Tamil Nadu Public Health Subordinate Service made and with reference to the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute, Gandhigram, it was provided that those amendments shall be applicable too them with effect from 16th September, 1968. In so far as the Health Inspectors who were formerly working in the Rural Institute and taken over are concerned, their service prior to 1st April, 1973 had not been taken into account and it is the complaint of the petitioner-Union that the services rendered by its members in the Rural Institute for several years past should not be totally ignored or overlooked and that in so far as G.O.Ms. No. 1456, Health and Family Planning Department, dated 12th June, 1973, took over the services of the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute only with effect from 1st April, 1973, it resulted in the members of the petitioner-Union being deprived of the past service rendered by them for availing service benefits. On a representation made by the petitioner-Union, the first respondent sent the impugned communication dated 7th January, 1984 to the effect that the request of the Health Inspectors absorbed in Government Service with effect from 1st April, 1973 from the Rural Institute, Gandhigram, to count their services prior to 1st April, 1973 in the Institute for purposes of advancement to selection grade post and for other service benefits is inadmissible and stood rejected. It is to quash this communication, the petitioner-Union has come up before this Court praying for the reliefs set out earlier.
3. In the counter filed on behalf of the respondents, they tool up the position that the Health Inspectors formerly working in the Rural Institute were absorbed into Government service only with effect from 1st April, 1973 and as such, their service prior to that date cannot be taken into account for any service benefits under the Government and, therefore, the rejection of the request of the members of the petitioner-Union in that regard was in order.
4. The learned Counsel for the petitioner-Union contended that the Health Inspectors whose services had been taken over by the State Government under G.O.Ms. No. 1456, Health and Family Planning Department, dated 12th June, 1973, had put in different periods of service in the Rural institute where they were serving earlier and the State Government while taking them over from the Rural Institute with retrospective effect from 1st April, 1973, cannot totally ignore the period of their past services in the Rural Institute of or purposes of considering the promotional and other service benefits. Strong reliance in this connection was placed by the learned counsel for the petitioner-Union upon the decision in N. N. Swamy v. State, : AIR1974Ori186 confirmed by the Supreme Court in State of Orissa v. N. N. Swamy : 2SCR774 . On the other hand, the learned Additional Government Pleader submitted that the taking over of those services of the members of the petitioner-Union Government servants was only from 1st April, 1973, though the relevant Government Order in that regard was passed on 12th June, 1973 and having regard to the terms of the Government Order providing for the taking over of the services of the Health Inspectors of the Rural Institute, the petitioner-Union or its members cannot be heard to contend that the period of their past services ought to be reckoned for purposes of other services benefits as well as promotional opportunities.
5. There is no dispute that most of the Health Inspectors whose services were taken over by the State Government under G.O.Ms. No. 1456. Health and Family Planning Department, dated 12th June, 1973, had put in different periods of service as Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute. Their services were not so taken over with effect from 1st April, 1973. But, at the same time, G.O.Ms. No. 1456, Health and Family Planning Department, dated 12th June, 1973, does not make any provision whatever with reference to the period of service already rendered by the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute. In other words, those Health Inspectors who were absorbed and treated as Government servants were regarded as new entrants into Government service with effect from 1st April, 1973. There is nothing to indicate in the said Government Order as to why or on what grounds the State Government was inclined to totally ignore the period of past services rendered by the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute. Almost under identical circumstances, the Orissa High Court in N. N. Swamy v. State, (Supra) had to consider the question with reference to the take-over of a private college. The take-over of the college was on 9th March, 1971 and the members of the staff in the taken-over college were issued appointment orders to the effect that they were temporarily appointed on an ad hoc basis for a period not exceeding six months with effect from the forenoon of 9th March, 1971. The question arose whether those persons could claim that their past services in the private college also be taken into account for considering their chances for promotion as Readers. In that context, the Orissa High Court pointed out that we cannot lose sight of the fact when the take-over was decided at the level of the management on one side and the Government on the other, most of the teachers in the college had no other way out, but to opt to accept service under the new employer. Having served the college for several years, they had crossed the age bar for recruitment into Government service and by not opting to accept the service under the Government by exercising the option as offered they faced the apprehension of loss of service and that there was absolutely no rationale behind the decision of total obliteration of the experience gathered by them as teachers in the college before the take-over. The Court was also of the view that such a condition ought not to have been imposed at all. This decision of the Orissa High Court was affirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court in State of Orissa v. N. N. Swamy, (Supra), the Supreme Court has observed as follows :
'When a fairly well-recognised institution, as in this case, run for more than a century, is completely taken over by the Government for management, it is not merely taking over the land and buildings, tables and chairs. It has to tackle at the same time, a human problem, that is to say, the fate of the teachers and the staff serving in that institution. The institution, with which we are concerned, was taken over, by consent, as a going educational concern and it goes without saying that it must be administered on sound lines having regard to quality, efficiency and progress in all respects. It is understandable that the employees had to join the new service under the Government, for the first time, and so could be, in that sense, fresh entrant. But to say that the teaching experience of the Readers in the private institution is completely effaced to the extent that they will not be given eligible, on the plea of absence of teaching experience in Government service, for consideration for appointment as Readers is a seriously grim issue.'
Finally, the Supreme Court directed that the prior teachings experience should also be taken into account to consider their eligibility for appointment as Readers, though their suitability to the posts was directed to be decided by the Public Service Commission. The only difference between the cases referred to above and the one on hand is that Lectures were concerned in those cases, while, we have a similar problem with reference to Health Inspectors here. There is absolutely no justification whatever to totally obliterate the past experience and services rendered by the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute, and to consider them as new entrants only with effect from 1st April, 1973, for purposes of extending to them other service benefits, especially when they were faced with one of two alternatives, either to join the services as offered or to quit. Under those circumstances, the communication of the first respondent in Letter No. 26968/L1/82-18, Health, dated 7th January, 1984, cannot at all be sustained and it is quashed accordingly. The respondents are also further directed to take into account the past services put in by the Health Inspectors in the Rural Institute while considering their entitlement to promotional and other services benefits. The rule is made absolute. There will be no order as to costs.
6. Petition allowed.