HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that the court is not supposed to exercise the power of judicial review to set aside a transfer order which is administrative in nature. “The High Court can interfere with the transfer order if it is made contrary to rules governing organisation or any statutory rule or if it is prompted by malafide action”, the court observed.
Justice R Kantha Rao was hearing a writ petition filed by an employee of HAL, a public sector undertaking, seeking directions to the respondent authorities of the organisation to retain him in Hyderabad and to treat him on par with his colleagues with all consequential benefits.
As for the case details, the petitioner is a deputy manager at SLRDC, Hyderabad which is one of the units of HAL.
The petitioner and some other employees in the organisation have given written complaint against the general manager (GM) and assistant GM alleging that some of them were being harassed and discriminated against on the basis of regionalism.
Subsequently, on certain specific allegations, the petitioner was transferred to a different lab involving different work which had nothing to do with his research work. When he protested the said transfer, he was suspended.
The petitioner challenged the suspension order and the Court granted interim orders staying the proceedings of the suspension order.
Meanwhile, the petitioner and others were transferred from Hyderabad to Korwa in Uttar Pradesh. The petitioner employee moved the High Court contending that his transfer was not a routine and general transfer but was punitive in nature. He submitted that he alone was picked up for a special treatment and nobody in his cadre was shifted even within the SLRDC. In fact, he was neither one of the senior most officers nor a junior to be chosen to discharge the functions at Korwa.
He alleged that he was intentionally picked up to punish him for raising his voice on certain issues in the organisation.
The petitioner further submitted that his wife is also an employee of HAL and working in SLRDC, Hyderabad, and as per the guidelines while issuing transfer orders, the authorities are expected to take note of the spouse employment, but in his case, the said factor was not taken into consideration, Therefore, he argued that the transfer order was atrocious and inhumane.
The respondent authorities while stoutly refuting the allegations, submitted that it was a normal transfer order intended at job rotation of the officers in various cadres in normal and routine course as an administrative action by the organisation.
There is absolutely no scope of making any allegations of bias, discrimination or arbitrariness with respect to order of transferring as many as 106 officers, including the petitioner. Job rotation is an important method for career development of officers. In fact, in the appointment order issued to the petitioner at the time of his initial appointment at HAL in SLRDC, Hyderabad, it was clearly mentioned that he will be liable to serve in any part of India or abroad at the discretion of the company. Having worked for a period of eight years continuously in Hyderabad, the petitioner had chosen to make damaging allegations against his senior officials, to evade a transfer, they pointed out.
After hearing both the sides and perusing the material on record, Justice Kantha Rao found that the petitioner, in his initial appointment in HAL, had accepted the condition that he can be posted in the organisation at any place in India and that he was willing to work as such.
The judge said that the impugned transfer proceedings are administrative in nature and the petitioner is not able to establish that it is prompted by malafides and is punitive in nature. Though his wife is also working in the same organisation at Hyderabad, the order of transfer cannot be revoked or cancelled on the ground that it causes some inconvenience and hardship to an employee, the judge noted.
“This Court in exercise of power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India can interfere with the transfer if it is made contrary to the Rules governing the organisation or any statutory rule or it is prompted by mala fide action”, the judge observed.
While dismissing the petition, the judge made it clear that the Court is not supposed to exercise the power of judicial review to set aside the transfer order though it may cause hardship and inconvenience to the petitioner and cause dislocation in the family set up.