Says no appointment can be made to posts of chairperson and member-secretary sans court permission
Declining to accept the guidelines framed by the State government for selecting candidates to the posts of chairperson and member-secretary of the Karnataka State pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the High Court of Karnataka on Thursday said the government could not have decided to appoint only an officer from the cadre of IAS or IFS to the post of member-secretary of the board.
Also, the court said that in the light of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Techi Tagi Tara vs. Rajendra Singh Bhandari case it was the duty of the State government to prescribe the educational qualification for the post of the chairperson.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi passed the order while hearing a batch of PIL petitions questioning the legality of the guidelines fixed for selecting candidates to posts of member, member- secretary, and chairperson in the KSPCB.
The Bench said the board must consist of persons having technical expertise and experience in dealing with environmental matters as the board plays a pivotal and crucial role in implementing three important laws, the Environment (Protection) Act, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, enacted to protect environment and ecology.
The apex court, the Bench said, had referred to the recommendations made by a committee, which had said that the member-secretary of the State Pollution Control Boards should possess a postgraduate degree in science, engineering or technology and have adequate experience of working in the areas of environment protection.
Pointing out that State government had not given any reason for choosing officers from only IAS and IFS cadres for the post of the member secretary, the Bench said the guideline to consider officers of only these cadres was contrary to the provisions of the law while stating that the law does not refer to appointment only from IAS or IFS cadres.
While pointing out that appoint of officers of IAS or IFS cadres would affect functioning of the board as the government would transfer the officers frequently citing exigencies, the Bench said that the member-secretary requires a minimum tenure of two to three years.
While directing the government to reconsider qualification for both the posts, the Bench also said the government cannot appoint any person to these posts without prior permission of the court.