Policy decisions of the State Government should be in conformity with Article 14 of the Constitution

Himachal
Pradesh High Court: While reviewing the arbitrariness of the Notification
issued by the Government which cancelled the establishment of Government Degree
Colleges in Kotla Behr,  the Division
Bench of Rajiv Sharma and S.T Thakur JJ., observed that, Policy decisions must conform
to Article 14 of the Constitution. The Court further held that, setting up a
new degree college should be in conformity with the State’s obligation for equitable
distribution of resources and funds across the State. It was further observed
that the attempt of succeeding Government should not be to march over the
decisions of outgoing ruling party, but must be guided by doctrine of good
governance for the State.

As per the facts of the case, the impugned
Notification issued by the State Government led to the de-notification of the
Government Degree College at Kotla Behr. V.S. Thakur, learned counsel for the
petitioner argued that, the State arbitrarily de-notified 8 Government colleges
of Kotla Behr via Notification dated 02.03.2013. The petitioner further contended
that, as per the Guidelines of 02.01.2014, a new college was required at Kotla
Behr as well, but the government did not follow uniform policy for opening of  new degree colleges. Appearing on behalf of
the respondents M. A Khan argued that, de-notification of degree colleges at
Kotla Behr was a ‘Policy Decision’.

The Court pointed out that the respondents
re-opened all the colleges except that of Kotla Behr without any justification
which signifies the arbitrariness and unreasonableness in the decision making
process. The Court while answering the contention of respondents, relied on
the  Supreme Court  decision of Kumari Shrilekha Vidyarathi v. State of U.P, (1991) 1 SCC 212,  and observed that Article
14 of the Constitution is also applicable to governmental policies and if
policy or any action of government fails to clear the test of reasonableness,
it would be held unconstitutional. Further the Court relied on the judgment of Andhra Pradesh Dairy Development Corporation
Federation v. B.
Narasimha Reddy, (2011) 9 SCC 286, and
stated that the succeeding
government is duty bound to continue and carry on the unfinished work of
previous government. Based upon the above observations, the Court found the Notification
dated 02.03.2013, to be arbitrary and thus quashed it, and directed the
respondents to reopen the Government Degree College at Kotla Behr.  [Asha Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh, decided on 20.07.2015]
Source: Legal news India

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