No govt servant has right to stay posted at place of choice: HC on visually impaired IAS’ plea against transfer

In his petition, IAS officer Ravi Prakash Gupta had contended that he is physically handicapped (100 per cent visually impaired).

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the plea of a 100 per cent visually impaired Haryana Cadre IAS Officer challenging Haryana government’s decision to transfer him from the post of Deputy Commissioner (DC), Fatehabad, to the post of Director General, Swarna Jayanti Haryana Institute of Fiscal Management (SJHIFM).

Upholding the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which had earlier dismissed the IAS officer’s plea seeking to invalidate the government order, the division bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma said, “It would not be out of way to mention here that transfer is an incident of service and no government servant has a vested right to remain posted at a place of his choice nor can an employee dictate terms with regard to his place of posting. The said power is vested in the employer, who is to exercise the said powers as per the administrative exigencies keeping in view the public interest unless it involves any adverse impact on the career or further prospects”.

In his petition, IAS officer Ravi Prakash Gupta had contended that he is physically handicapped (100 per cent visually impaired).
Upon selection in IAS, he was initially allocated to Chhattisgarh state and pursuant to a policy decision for transfer of disabled persons, he was transferred to Haryana cadre in October 2015 and posted as Additional Secretary (Finance). Gupta, meanwhile, submitted a representation in April 2016 for a field posting as Deputy Commissioner, and he was posted as Deputy Commissioner, Kaithal. However, just after 6-1/2 month, he was transferred and posted as Director, Food and Supplies, Haryana and Special Secretary to Government of Haryana, Food and Supplies Department and other departments.

Aggrieved with the orders of transfer, Gupta moved CAT seeking direction to the Haryana government to allow him to complete his tenure as DC, Kaithal. However, his plea was dismissed by CAT. Gupta then moved Punjab and Haryana High Court against the CAT order. Gupta was then posted as DC, Fatehabad, in December 2019. However, after few months, he was transferred from the post of DC, Fatehabad to DG, SJHIFM again in May 2020. Against which Gupta moved CAT again on June 3, 2020, arguing that there is a violation of Rule 7 of Cadre Rules having been passed before completion of two years of service and secondly that Haryana state has not given any reasons for passing the order. The CAT, however, dismissed the plea of Gupta, and this was in HC.

Advocate General, Haryana, in reply submitted that the transfer of the petitioner was not an isolated one, rather, three other Deputy Commissioners were transferred along with the petitioner which is the Deputy Commissioner of Panipat, Sonepat and Charkhi Dadri apart from the petitioner, who was then posted as Deputy Commissioner, Fatehabad. His submission is that the said exercise was carried out because of an unusual and unexpected situation, which has not only engulfed our country but the entire world because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The division bench after hearing the matter, held, “…it cannot be said that there has been violation of the statutory rules by the respondents/state while transferring the petitioner as the mandate of the said rules has been fully complied with. No doubt the petitioner was posted as Deputy Commissioner, Fatehabad, vide order dated 28.12.2019 passed by the competent authority i.e. the Chief Secretary to Government of Haryana… the state government was empowered to transfer the petitioner before the minimum specified period provided a recommendation of the Civil Services Board had been received as specified in the Schedule annexed to the Rules…”

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