Holding that social activists and persons experienced in implementation of social welfare schemes and who have directly worked with grass root level people in rural areas will be more suited for the post of Director, Social Audit Society of Tamil Nadu (SASTA), MHC on Thursday quashed a Government Order (GO) and subsequent notification calling for applications to fill up the post of Director, SASTA.
“The requirement seems to have confined itself to regular audit, which is more focused on financial audit, which confines itself to verifying all the accounts and complying with Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011. It does not involve the process of understanding the public perceptions or verification of outcome on the field in implementation of the scheme,” the judge said.
Further noting that an impression has been created as if government is the overall authority of SASTA, Justice Anand Venkatesh said “An independent Director for SASTA is a very vital factor for effective implementation of objects of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 and Audit of Scheme Rules.” “At no point of time, Government or local body should be given control, since, it will defeat the very independence that is contemplated under MGNREGA and Audit of Scheme Rules,” the judge said while observing that “Till now, the Government of TN has managed to run the Society, with Secretaries and Additional Secretaries, without appointing an independent Director for Social Audit.”
He also noted that the if the Director does not possess the experience in social audit, it is not known as to how he will be able to appreciate social audit report submitted to him. Based on this, Justice Anand Venkatesh directed the TN Government represented by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department to issue a fresh GO prescribing qualifications for appointment of independent Director of Social Audit to SASTA, strictly in accordance with the MGNREGA Act, 2005 and MGNREGA Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011. Also directing the said department to take into consideration the qualification prescribed in the other States for filling up the above said post, the court wanted the process completed within four weeks. Pursuant to the fresh GO and notification thereafter, the selection of director shall be completed within eight weeks, court said.
Justice Anand Venkatesh in his order also held “Thousands of crores of rupees are being spent towards MGNREGA and audit comes within the scope of Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Therefore, only an independent Director who cannot be influenced by the Government or any local body, who has sufficient experience in social audit, will be able to do justice to the post.”