Artistes’ appointment was not transparent: High Court

The appointment of 550 artistes by the Telangana Samskruthika Samithi (TSS), an organisation created by the Telangana government, was not transparent.

Making this observation, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the government to make fresh appointments after issuing a notification. A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Ramesh Ranganathan passed the order after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by three persons challenging the appointment of artistes by the TSS on nomination basis.

Additional Advocate-General J. Ramachandra Rao explained to the bench that the government was utilising the services of the 550 artistes to propagate its programmes. One such programme was waste management and the artistes were assigned the task of explaining to people the need to segregate biodegradable waste.

But the bench sought to know the source of emoluments (salaries) to the artistes.

When Mr. Rao replied that they were being paid public funds, the bench said the appointments amounted to violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

“There cannot be discrimination or structured exclusion when appointments in governments are made,” Chief Justice Radhakrishnan observed. The method adopted by TSS chairman Rasamayi Balakishan (who is also an MLA) was “pick and choose”, the bench said. “Maybe, the chairman was well-versed in assessing artistes’ abilities but there is no room for pick-and-choose even if the best of the best artistes are selected,” the bench noted.

The bench made it clear that transparency must be inherent and inbuilt in the appointments, however low the category of post may be.

The judges ordered that a fresh notification be issued within three weeks and the process of appointment be completed in three months. However, there was no bar on the number of artistes to be appointed.

The government had the liberty to appoint any number of artistes. The already appointed 550 artistes could also apply for the posts through the new notification.

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