G. Ramanujam, J.
1. On the death of the permanent headman of Ariyagoshty Village in Chidambaram Taluk on 30th June, 1967, a permanent vacancy arose. The vacancy was notified. Six candidates applied for the post. After observing the usual formalities, the Revenue Divisional Officer, Chidambaram, selected the petitioner for appointment as Village Headman on a regular basis in his proceedings dated 14th March, 1969. Against that appointment the fourth respondent herein filed an appeal to the District Revenue Officer, Cuddalore, the first respondent herein and the said appeal was allowed and the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer appointing the petitioner as the Village Headman was set aside and the fourth respondent was appointed instead.
2. Aggrieved by the order of the first respondent, the petitioner filed an appeal before the Board of Revenue but without success. Thereafter the petitioner filed a revision petition before the Government but it also failed. Subsequently, the petitioner has approached this Court for a writ of certiorari to quash the orders of the Government which in turn confirmed the orders of the Board and the District Revenue Officer.
3. The point urged in this writ petition is that the preference shown by the District Revenue Officer to the fourh respondent on the ground that he is the son of the last officer-holder is erroneous as such preference, if at all, can be given only if the qualifications of the competing appellants are evenly matched. It is true the Revenue Divisional Officer, the initial authority, selected the petitioner on the ground that his literary and solvency qualifications are slightly superior to that of the fourth respondent. But the District Revenue Officer, the appellate authority, has taken the view that the qualifications of the petitioner and the fourth respondent are more or less equal and therefore the fourth respondent being the son of the last office-holder should be preferred. This view has been accepted by the Board of Revenue and the Government.
4. The learned Counsel for the petitioner does not dispute the fact that in making appointment to a village office the person related to the last office-holder can be preferred if other qualifications are evenly matched. But what the learned Counsel contends is that in this case the qualifications of the petitioner are superior to those of the fourth respondent and therefore the rule of preference based on the relationship of a candidate to the last office-holder cannot be invoked on the facts of this case. In this case the qualifications possessed by the petitioner as well as the fourth respondent are substantially the same except in relation to two matters. One is as regards the educational qualification and the other the property qualification. As regards educational qualification, the petitioner has passed the Pre-University Class Examination while the fourth respondent has passed S.S.L.C. As regards property qualification, the petitioner is solvent to the extent of Rs. 41,273 while the fourth respondent is solvent to the extent of Rs. 8,370.
5. The question is whether the petitioner's slightly higher educational and property qualifications can be taken to exclude the operation of the rule of preference based on the relationship to the last office-holder. The District Revenue Officer, the appellate authority, points out that both of them being duly qualified for appointment, the petitioner's slightly higher educational and property qualifications cannot exclude the operation of the said rule of preference. The Board of Revenue has also taken the view that the qualifications of the petitioner and the fourth respondent are evenly matched and therefore the rule of preference should be invoked. The Board observes:
The Board observes that both the appellant and the respondent are fully qualified to hold the post. There is nothing in the B.S.O. to justify the view that a richer person has a higher right to be appointed as the Village Headman. All that is indicated is that he should have adequate property. The respondent has properties to cover the beriz of the village. No specific educational qualification has been laid down for the post of Village Headman. Both are more or less in the same age group and have no previous experience. Under the circumstances, the decision of the D.R.O. to prefer the respondent on the ground that he is related to the previous holder is correct because it will be an additional qualification when both the candidates are suitable.
It is not in dispute that there was at that time no specific educational qualification that is prescribed for the post of the Village Headman. Therefore the petitioner cannot claim that since he has got a slightly higher educational qualification he should be appointed. As regards property qualification B.S.O. provides that the person appointed should have sufficient properties to cover the beriz of the village. Therefore so long as the fourth respondent has sufficient solvency to cover the beriz of the village, he can be taken to have sufficient property qualification. It is not provided in the Board's Standing Orders that the person having higher property qualification is entitled to preference. Therefore the fact that the petitioner has got slightly higher educational and property qualifications will not enable him to claim the appointment. It is for this reason the District Revenue Officer and the Board of Revenue treated the qualifications of both the petitioner and the fourth respondent as being substantially equal or evenly matched. On the facts I am inclined to agree with the Board of Revenue that the qualifications of the petitioner as well as the fourth respondent are evenly matched and there was justification for invoking the rule of preference based on relationship to the last office-holder. Otherwise, even a minor difference in any one of the qualifications between two candidates can be taken to exclude the said rule of preference. In this view, there is no ground for holding; that the orders impugned in this writ petition are vitiated by any error of jurisdiction. Petition is dismissed. No costs.