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High Court ruling on appointment of musicians in temples

Author: Mohamed Imranullah S. & Staff Reporter
Publication: The Hindu
Date: May 13, 2012
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/article3414993.ece

College degrees, certificates in music cannot be reason to claim superiority over informal trainers, say judges

 There is nothing wrong in treating musicians who had completed a certificate or degree course in a Government Music College on a par with those who had received informal training from ace performers when it comes to appointment in Temples managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, the Madras High Court Bench here has said.

 Allowing two writ appeals filed by a female Nagaswaram player as well as the Administrative Officer of the Kallazhagar Temple at Alagarkovil near here, a Division Bench of Justices R. Banumathi and B. Rajendran said that the performance of an informal student trained under a Vidhwan would be more vibrant than a person who had passed out of a college without sufficient training from a leading musician.

 The Division Bench set aside an order passed by a single judge on November 13, 2008 cancelling the appointment of R. Chandrakala as the official Nagaswaram player of the temple and held that the other contestant for the post, M. Sankaranarayanan, who had originally filed the writ petition before the single judge, could approach the HR and CE department if he was still aggrieved.

 Recalling the history of the case, the judges pointed out that the temple had issued a recruitment notification in a newspaper on October 4, 2007 calling for applications from candidates possessing a certificate issued by a Government Music College in playing Nagaswaram. Then, only four candidates including the writ petitioner applied and none of them produced the original certificates during the interview.

 Hence, the temple abandoned the selection process and issued a fresh notification on December 7, 2007. This time, it did not insist on a certificate from a government college. A committee comprising the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Executive Officer of the Temple as well as a musician was constituted to make the selection on the basis of an audition.

 The writ petitioner participated in this selection too. But he was not selected and hence he filed the writ petition alleging that the insistence on a certificate from a government college was intentionally omitted in the second notification in order to favour Ms. Chandrakala. The single judge accepted his argument and ordered cancellation of her appointment leading to the present writ appeals.

 On the other hand, the appellants contended that while making recruitment to the post of a musician the talent of the performer could not be ignored for the only reason of not having undergone formal education in a college. It was also pointed out that Ms. Chandrakala was trained by various stalwarts including Padmashri awardee M.P.N. Sethuraman.

  The Division Bench accepted the arguments and allowed the writ appeals pending in the court since 2008. It also rejected the writ petitioner’s argument that Ms. Chandrakala had not completed 25 years of age on the date of her appointment and so she was not eligible for appointment as per the HR and CE Act. The judges pointed out that the age limit would apply only to temple trustees and not employees.
 
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