HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
COURT NO. 34
SPECIAL APPEAL NO. 262 OF 2005
Rajendra Prasad ————- Petitioner/Appellant
Union of India & Ors. ————- Respondents
Hon’ble Dr. B.S. Chauhan, J.
Hon’ble Dilip Gupta, J.
(By Hon’ble Dr. B.S. Chauhan, J.)
This special appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 2.11.2004 of the learned Judge disposing of the Writ Petition No. 46040 of 2004 filed by the petitioner against the order of transfer dated 11.10.2004 by directing that the petitioner will be permitted to remain in Varanasi up to 31st May, 2005 considering the interest of children who are of the school going age in view of the undertaking given by the learned counsel for the petitioner on behalf of his client..
Shri M.D. Mishra, learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that petitioner-appellant is a Class IV employee and he could not be transferred in view of the transfer policy unless he has prayed in writing for transfer or he is being promoted; petitioner-appellant belongs to the Scheduled Tribes and, therefore, as per the Government Order contained in Annex. 2 A, it was not permissible to transfer him; petitioner-appellant had been transferred in the mid academic session which had adversely affected the education of his children; transfer is because of mala fide of the higher authorities because of the fact that petitioner is a Scheduled Tribe candidate and other persons are having malice against him. He, therefore, submits that the impugned order of transfer is liable to be quashed and the judgment and order of the learned Single Judge deserves to be set aside.
On the contrary, Shri Ramendra Pratap Singh, learned counsel appearing for the respondents has submitted that petitioner is an employee of the Corporation and the Corporation has not been impleaded as a party. Reliance placed by the petitioner-appellant on transfer policies is misconceived as these do not create any legal or justiciable right in Court; the certificate shows that his daughter is a student of Class X in Intermediate College Babusarai, Sant Ravi Dass Nagar, Bhadohi and, therefore, his daughter is not studying in Varanasi, though his son is studying in Varanasi. More so, the said transfer policy merely provides that low paid employee should not normally be transferred, and similarly, the Government Orders in respect of the Scheduled Tribes employees provides that as far as possible they may not be transferred unless a request is made by them or they are promoted. Petitioner-appellant had earlier been transferred from Rewa to Varanasi after serving at Rewa for 12 years but he did not raise any grievance against the said order. Allegations of mala fides against the higher officers have been levelled without any sense of responsibility as no officer had been impleaded by name. In paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Affidavit accompanying Stay Application in the Special Appeal, allegations have been made of non-compliance of the order passed by the learned Single Judge, for which he had filed the contempt proceedings and relief was granted to him. Thus, the appeal is liable to be dismissed.
We have considered the rival submissions made by the learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
Admittedly, petitioner-appellant is an employee of the Corporation which had not been impleaded as a respondent, and on that ground writ petition ought to have been rejected. In view of the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in The State of Punjab Vs. Okara Grain Buyers Syndicate Ltd., Okara & Anr., AIR 1964 SC 669; Ranjeet Mal Vs General Manager, Northern Railway, New Delhi & Anr, AIR 1977 SC 1701; and Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of A. P. Vs. Collector & Ors, (2003) 3 SCC 472. However, as Shri Mishra prays that he may be given time to implead the Corporation as a party, the appeal is not to be rejected on this ground. In such an eventuality, the party can be impleaded even at the stage of the appeal as held by the Supreme Court in Bal Niketan Nursery School Vs. Kesari Prasad, AIR 1987 SC 1970.
The issue of transfer and posting has been considered time and again by the Apex Court and entire law has been settled by catena of decisions. It is entirely upon the competent authority to decide when, where and at what point of time a public servant is to be transferred from his present posting. Transfer is not only an incident but an essential condition of service. (Vide B. Varadha Rao Vs. State of Karnataka & Ors., AIR 1986 SC 1955; Gujarat Electricity Board Vs. Atma Ram Sungomal Poshani, AIR 1989 SC 1433; Shilpi Bose Vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1991 SC 532; Union of India Vs. N.P. Thomas, AIR 1991 SC 1605; Union of India Vs. S.L. Abbas, AIR 1993 SC 2444; N.K. Singh Vs. Union of India & Ors., (1994) 6 SCC 98; Chief Manager (Tel.) N.E. Telecom Circle Vs. Rajendra Ch. Bhattacharjee, AIR 1995 SC 813; State of U.P. Vs. Dr. R.N. Prasad, 1995 (Suppl)) 2 SCC 151; Union of India & Ors. Vs. Ganesh Dan Singh, 1995 (Suppl) 3 SCC 214; Abani Kante Ray Vs. State of Orissa, 1995 (Suppl) 4 SCC 169; National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd. Vs Shri Bhagwan, (2001) 8 SCC 574; State Bank of India Vs. Anjan Sanyal & Ors., AIR 2001 SCC 1748; and Public Services Tribunal Bar Association Vs. State of U.P. & Anr., AIR 2003 SC 1115).
In Union of India Vs. H.N. Kirtania, AIR 1989 SC 1774, the Hon’ble Apex Court observed as under:-
“Transfer of a public servant made on administrative grounds or in public interest should not be interfered with unless there are strong and pressing grounds rendering the transfer order illegal on the ground of violation of statutory rules or on ground of malafide.”
In Union of India Vs. S.L. Abbas (Supra), the Apex Court has observed that the Government instructions on transfer are mere guidelines without any statutory force and the Court or Tribunal cannot interfere with the order of transfer unless the said order is alleged to have been passed by malice or where it is made in violation of the statutory provisions.
Similar view has been reiterated by the Supreme Court, in Bank of India Vs. Jagjit Singh Mehta, AIR 1992 SC 519, observing that the terms incorporated in the transfer policy require to be considered by the authorities “along with exigencies of administration” and ” without any detriment to the administrative need and claim of other employees”.
In view of the above, it is evident that transfer is an incident of service. An employee working on a transferable post cannot claim a right to be posted at a particular place. It is the choice of the employer to determine as on what place and for how long the services of an employee are required. The Court cannot interfere with the transfer order unless it is found to be in contravention of statutory rules or passed on mala fides. Transfer policy does not create legal right justiciable in the Court of law. Transfer order does not affect any of his legal rights and Court cannot interfere with a transfer/posting which is made in public interest or on administrative exigency. However, if the power of transfer is abused or transfer not made in public interest but for collateral purposes and with oblique motive, the order would stand vitiated.
In Director of School Education Madras & Ors. Vs. O. Karuppa Thevan & Anr, 1994 Supp (2) SCC 666, the issue of transfer in mid academic session was considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and it was held that “the fact that children of the employee are studying should be given due weight, if the exigencies of the service are not urgent.” Therefore, it is for the employer to examine as to whether transfer of an employee can be deferred till the end of the current academic session. The Court has no means to assess as what is the real urgency of administrative exigency. Thus, the Court is not inclined to consider this submission at all.
As the learned Single Judge has stayed the transfer order till the end of May, 2005, the contention that the appellant was transferred in mid academic session does not survive any more.
The issue of transfer of a low paid employee was considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Madhya Pradesh Vs. Shanker Lal & Ors., AIR 1980 SC 643, and after considering the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1961 the Court came to the conclusion that unless the statutory rules itself puts an embargo for transfer by a Class IV or low paid employee, there can be no bar to transfer the said employee. However, such a power should be exercised sparingly. The Court observed as under:-
“………….Theoretically, therefore, the power does exist in the State Government to transfer them. We must, however, hasten to add that in case of employees getting small emoluments the power seems to be meant to be sparingly exercised under some compelling exigencies of a particular situation and not as a matter of routine. If it were to be liberally exercised, it will create tremendous problems and difficulties in the way of Mpl. Employees getting small salaries…………..”
In B. Varadha Rao (Supra) while dealing with the issue of transfer, the Apex Court considered various aspects and observed as under:-
“One cannot but deprecate that frequent, unscheduled and unreasonable transfers can uproot a family, cause irreparable harm to a Government servant and drive him to desperation. It disrupts the education of his children and leads to numerous other complications and problems and results in hardship and demoralisation. It therefore follows that the policy of transfer should be reasonable and fair and should apply to everybody equally. But, at the same time, it cannot be forgotten that so far as superior or more responsible posts are concerned, continued posting at one station or in one department of the Government is not conducive to good administration. It creates vested interest and therefore we find that even from the British times the general policy has been to restrict the period of posting for a definite period. We wish to add that the position of Class III and Class IV employees stand on a different footing. We trust that the Government will keep these considerations in view while making an order of transfer.
Therefore in view of the above, the law stands summarised that in a case of Class IV or low paid employees, the power of transfer should be used sparingly when required in administrative exigency, and not in a routine manner. More so, the power is to be exercised in good faith, not arbitrarily, and the employer should try to accommodate at a nearby place as his transfer at a far distance may cause him great financial hardship and may make his survival difficult.
The issue of mala fide has been raised contending that petitioner is being harassed being a Scheduled Tribe candidate. The allegations are vague and not specific and precise. Not a single person has been named in the array of parties, therefore, the ground of mala fide cannot be considered for want of necessary party.
It is settled legal proposition that in case allegations of mala fide are made against any person he is to be impleaded by name, otherwise the allegations cannot be considered. (Vide Dr. J.N. Banavalikar Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi & Anr., AIR 1996 SC 326; State of Bihar & Anr. Vs. P.P. Sharma, I.A.S. & Anr, 1992 Suppl (1) SCC 222; I.K. Mishra Vs. Union of India & Ors., (1997) 6 SCC 228; and All India State Bank Officers Federation & Ors Vs. Union of India & Ors., JT 1996 (8) SC 550)
In Federation of Officers Association Vs. Union of India & ors, 2003 AIR SCW 1764, the Apex Court has held that the allegation of mala fide has to be specifically made and the person against whom such allegations are made has to be impleaded and in his absence such allegations cannot be taken into consideration.
Allegations made by the petitioners against the Director General are of such a nature that it does not warrant any inquiry on the issue for the reason that the same are not specific and fall short of making any inquiry in this regard. The issue of “malus animus” was considered in Tara Chand Khatri Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 567, wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the High Court would be justified in refusing to carry on investigation into the allegation of mala fides, if necessary particulars of the charge making out a prima facie case are not given in the writ petition and burden of establishing mala fide lies very heavily on the person who alleges it and there must be sufficient material to establish malus animus.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in E.P. Royappa Vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr., AIR 1974 SC 555; M/s. Sukhwinder Pal Bipan Kumar & Ors. Vs. State of Punjab & Ors., AIR 1982 SC 65; and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil Vs. Dr. Mahesh Madhav Gosavi & Ors., AIR 1987 SC 294 reiterated the same view.
In M. Sankaranarayanan, IAS Vs. State of Karnataka & Ors., AIR 1993 SC 763, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the Court may “draw a reasonable inference of mala fide from the facts pleaded and established. But such inference must be based on factual matrix and such factual matrix cannot remain in the realm of institution, surmise or conjecture.”
In N.K. Singh Vs. Union of India & Ors., (1994) 6 SCC 98, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that “the inference of mala fides should be drawn by reading in between the lines and taking into account the attendant circumstances.”
There has to be very strong and convincing evidence to establish the allegations of mala fides specifically alleged in the petition as the same cannot merely be presumed. The presumption is in favour of the bona fides of the order unless contradicted by acceptable material. (Vide State of U.P. Vs. Dr. V.N. Prasad, 1995 Suppl (2) SCC 151; Arvind Dattatraya Dhande Vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (1997) 6 SCC 169; Utkal University Vs. Dr. Nrusingha Charan Sarangi & Ors., (1999) 2 SCC 193; Kiran Gupta & Ors. Vs. State of U.P. & Ors., (2000) 7 SCC 719; Netai Bag & Ors. Vs. State of W.B. & Ors., (2000) 8 SCC 262; and State of Punjab Vs. V.K. Khanna & Ors., (2001) SC 343; and M/s. Samant & Anr. Vs. Bombay Stock Exchange & Ors., AIR 2001 SC 2117).
In First Land Acquisition Collector & Ors. Vs. Nirodhi Prakash Gangoli & Anr., AIR 2002 SC 1314; and Jasvinder Singh & Ors. Vs. State of J & K & Ors., (2003) 2 SCC 132, the Apex Court held that burden of proving mala fides is very heavy on the person who alleges it. Mere allegation is not enough. Party making such allegations is under the legal obligation to place specific materials before the Court to substantiate the said allegations.
Petitioner miserably failed to plead and prove the allegations of mala fide. Therefore, the issue does not require any further consideration.
The transfer policy which does not even have any statutory force merely provides that normally low paid employee should not be transferred. The word ‘normally’ has to be understood in proper prospective and it does not put an embargo on transfer of Class IV employees. The word ‘normally’ has a perfectly ordinary meaning which would be given to it by ordinary people in everyday use. In using the word ‘normally’, one is referring to something which is in contradiction to abnormal or exceptional. Peak Trailer & Chassis Ltd. Vs. Jackson, (1967) 1 All ER 172. It means that in exceptional circumstances, transfer order can be passed if so required in administrative exigency. Similarly, the order for not transferring the employee belonging to Scheduled Tribe contains the expression ‘as far as possible’. That has to be understood in the same sense, and it cannot override the power of the employer to transfer the employees for the reason that it is the employer who has to decide as the servant of a particular employee is required at which place and for what period. In Jagjit Singh Mehta (Supra), the Apex Court while considering similar issue of posting of both the spouses at the same place if they were in service and held that as the transfer policy provided ‘as far as possible’, it does not take away the right of the employer to transfer on any administrative exigency or even on administrative ground. This phrase really means that the principles are to be observed unless it is not possible to follow them in the particular circumstances of a case. By use of this phraseology the rule etc. is made directory instead of mandatory. (Vide Rani Vs. Deputy Director of Consolidation, AIR 1959 All 525; and Gopalpur Tea Co. Ltd. Vs. Corporation of Calcutta, AIR 1966 Cal 51).
In Rajender Singh & Ors. Vs. State of U.P. & Ors., (1998) 7 SCC 654, the Hon’ble Apex Court explained the meaning of words ‘as far as possible’ as under:-
“……….These words are not prohibitory in nature. They rather connote a discretion vested in the prescribed authority which can exercise that discretion ………….. It is thus “discretion” and not “compulsion” which contributes the core of this statutory provision……………”
The expression ‘as far as possible’ inhers in it an inbuilt flexibility. (Vide Osmania University Vs. V.S. Muthurangam & Ors., AIR 1997 SC 2758). The expression “as far as practicable” mean, practicable, feasible, possible, performable. It means, not interfering with the ratio prescribed under any rule, which fulfils the interest of administration, but flexible provision clothing government with powers to meet special situations where the normal process of the government resolution cannot flow smooth. (Vide N.K. Chauhan & Ors. Vs. State of Gujarat & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 251). Therefore, as far as possible means, so long it remains practicable and feasible. Thus, it is a discretion to the authority to carve out an exception and it is not necessary for him to give strict adherence to the statutory provisions.
An undertaking had been given before the learned Single Judge on behalf of appellant-petitioner to join after the end of the academic session, and therefore, no interference can be made in the appeal filed by him.
Appellant is an employee of the Corporation which has offices throughout the country and unless any statutory rule specifically prohibits a Class IV employees can be transferred. However, the transfer order should not be issued in an arbitrary or passed on mala fides, or at such a far distance that it may become difficult for the employee to survive on such a meagre salary of a Class IV employee. The petitioner did not raise any grievance whatsoever while joining at Varanasi. He has been transferred in the close vicinity of his present posting. Therefore, it is not a case where he has been transferred at a very far distance causing him great financial hardship which may warrant interference by a writ Court.
We do not find any ground to interfere with the impugned judgment and order.
The appeal accordingly stands dismissed.