CAT | An employee has no vested right to hold on to a particular post when he is transferred to another post, CAT deliberates

Central Administrative Tribunal, Ernakulam: The Coram of P. Madhavan (Judicial Member) and K.V. Eapen (Administrative Member) disposed the application denying relief to the applicant finding no valid reason to interfere in Government’s order.

The applicant is an employee of the Indian Railways currently working as Chief Engineer Construction at Ernakulam. The applicant has claimed an out of the ordinary situation whereby he’s been subjected to frequent transfers without valid grounds. The applicant was deputed for 3 years to KRDC in 2017 and then he joined as Deputy Chief Engineer, Chennai on 09-05-2019. Later, he was promoted and posted as Chief Engineer Mangalore on 19-08-2019. Thereafter he was transferred to Ernakulam vide order dated 04-11-2019. The applicant has undergone 3 transfers within a period of one year which allegedly, is against Railway norms. The latest development is where he’s been transferred and posted as ADRM, Trivandrum (Annexure A1) in response to which he filed a representation but before deciding the same a transfer and posting order (Annexure A2) has been served to him. The applicant has claimed that the frequent transfers are arbitrary and against Railway transfer guidelines and has hence prayed for quashing of Annexure 1 & 2 and order for retention as Chief Engineer Ernakulam.

The applicant has contended that transfer to Trivandrum is a mutual one and that a minimum tenure of 2 years and maximum of 5 years at a posting is the usual practice in Railways.

Counsel for the respondent, Girija K. Kopal has stated in her reply that the applicant holds a transferable post and is obligated to be transferred to any place in the country. There’s no transgression of any statute or rule. It’s submitted that the applicant had no objections to his other transfers. All the transfers mentioned by the applicant are of routine nature resulting out of exigencies. No illegality or arbitrariness has been committed by the respondents.

The tribunal on careful perusal of the facts and arguments advances observed, that the transfer orders of early postings were a result of administrative exigencies prevailing at that point. The contention of the applicant that the transfers are against norms and guidelines has been dismissed by the tribunal stating that it’s evident from the guidelines that there’s nothing preventing the transfers in case of administrative emergencies as the applicant is an ex-cadre employee.

The tribunal relied on the case of S.R. Venkataraman v. Union of India, (1979) 2 SCC 491 holding that courts can interfere in transfers only if its the result of a malafide exercise of authority or violation of statutory or policy provisions or if it’s done as a punitive measure or if there’s a contravention of natural justice. It has been remarked that, an employee has no vested right to hold on to a particular post when he is transferred to another post.

In view of the above, the tribunal found no reason to interfere in the transfer order basis the lack of merit in contentions raised by the applicant’s counsel alleging the transfer to be arbitrary and malafide.

Resultantly the application was disposed of, permitting the applicant to file a fresh representation to the competent authority for transfer to a convenient place, if exercised. [P.T. Benny v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine CAT 305, decided on 13-08-2020]

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