A Manipur High Court Bench of Acting Chief Justice MV Muralidaran and Justice A Guneshwar Sharma has held that under the Manipur Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1991, the chairman and the Manipur Pollution Control Board must obtain sanction from the State Government before making appointments.

In that context, it was said that, "The Chairman is not authorized to interpret the rules at his own discretion or wisdom. Under the provisions of Rule 22(6) of the Rules of 1991, the sanction of the State Government is required in such cases."

Senior Advocate Kh. Tarunkumar appeared for the appellants, while Additional AG M Devananda, among others, appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the writ petition had been filed by the appellant to quash the orders terminating the service of the appellant as the chairman of the Manipur Pollution Control Board, and appointing the third respondent as the chairman.

The appellant's case was that he had been appointed as the chairman of the MPBC in March 2017, post which it was reconstituted in July 2021, after which the appellant had to continue to serve for another three years. However, in July 2022, the third respondent was appointed as the chairman, and this was assailed before the Court.

The petition was allowed and the Government was given the liberty to reconsider the claim of the appellant by affording reasonable opportunity and following the procedure provided by the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. In September 2022, a show cause notice was issued to the appellant, charging him for the appointment of 107 posts made in the Board without the approval of the State Government and he was asked to show cause as to why disciplinary action should not be initiated against him.

It was alleged that although the appellant submitted a reply to the show cause notice, the State Government issued orders terminating the appellant from the post of the chairman and appointed the third respondent in his place, without considering the reply.

On hearing the parties and perusing the material on record, the High Court observed that, "On a thorough reading of the termination order, it is clear that only after affording sufficient opportunity to show cause the allegations alleged against the appellant and upon considering the reply dated 16.9.2022 submitted by the appellant, the termination order dated 20.9.2022 came to be passed." Therefore, it was held that the termination order was not passed in violation of the order passed to the Government.

It was further noted that under Rule 23 of the Manipur Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Rules, 1991, for creation and appointment to the post in the scale, the maximum of which is above Rs.3300/- per month, the Board shall obtain prior sanction of the Government. In that context, it was observed that, "The relevant rule provides that before making appointment, the appellant was required to obtain sanction from the State Government and, in the instant case, the appellant has failed to obtain sanction from the State Government before appointing the 107 incumbents."

Subsequently, it was held that the State Government had appointed the third respondent only after examining the candidature and materials on record, and concluding that the the appellant had abused his position in making illegal appointments and he was no longer suitable for appointment.

In light of the same, the appeal was dismissed. No orders as to costs.

Cause Title: Laishram Radhakishore Singh vs The State of Manipur & Ors.

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