Right to Demand Respect & Inter-Cadre Transfers | Significance of ‘cogent reason’ while declining inter-cadre transfer: Del HC explains

Delhi High Court: Addressing a grievance with regard to the denial of inter-cadre transfer Division Bench of Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh, JJ., held that, denial with no cogent reasons impinges upon such person’s right to demand respect for her/his family life.

Earlier the petition was moved before this Court, when a notice was issued to the respondents and the principal prayers was directed against the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal.

It was noted that CAT had allowed the Original Application and set aside the order passed by the State of West Bengal, whereby the petitioner’s request for inter-cadre transfer on the ground of marriage to another officer who also belonged to All India Services was declined; the petitioner was dissatisfied with the outcome.

Petitioner’s dissatisfaction stemmed from the fact that the Tribunal, after setting aside the order had remanded the matter, whereas the relief that she was looking or was, the issuance of a direction to the State of West Bengal to communicate it’s no objection to the Government of India, DoPT concerning her request for inter-cadre transfer.

The above stated impelled the petitioner to approach the Court, against the order of the Tribunal.

In the instant matter, petitioner sought a change in her cadre from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted that the State of West Bengal declined the petitioner’s request for issuance of no objection consistently on the ground of shortage of officers, both before and after the coronavirus pandemic afflicted the residents of the country, even though, in many cases, no objection was granted.

Court did not accept the above-stated reason of the State of West Bengal as the inter-cadre transfers did take place qua officers belonging to AIS during the referred time.

Elaborating further, Bench stated that apart from trotting out a vague reason that there was a shortage of officers, nothing was placed on record which would persuade the Court to accept the State of West Bengal’s stand regarding shortage of officers.

Analyzing the issue further, Court added that it was evident upon a plain reading of Rule 5 (2) of the 1954 Cadre Rules that, the inter-cadre transfer cannot take place without the concurrence of the State Government concerned to whom the officer was attached.

Given the federal structure of governance, one cannot gainsay that the view of the transferor State Government, with whom the officer is encadred, is to be given its due weight.

“…refusal of the request made for inter-cadre transfer by an officer on the ground of marriage can only be sustained if it is backed by cogent reasons—as such a decision is subject to judicial review.”

Bench found much weight in the petitioner’s contention that her request for facilitating inter-cadre transfer was declined without a cogent reason.

Another contention of the petitioner, which the Bench found to have a lot of weight was that the denial of her inter-cadre transfer resulted in an infraction of her right to family life.

High Court further expressed that, 

Article 8(1) of the Convention discloses that every individual has the right to insist that the State respects her/his private and family life, home and correspondence. 

Referring to the decision of House of Lords in the matter of Huang (FC) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [(2007) UKHL 11], Bench observed that the observations in the said case explain the scope of the expression “family life”.

Court opined that, when the State unreasonably denies a request of an employee seeking inter-cadre transfer, it impinges upon such person’s right to demand respect for her/his family life.

In view of the above discussion, Court directed the State of West Bengal to issue a no-objection directive qua the petitioner to enable effectuation of her request for inter-cadre transfer. Further, Respondent 1 to act on the said no objection, and accordingly, effect the inter-cadre transfer of the petitioner from the State of West Bengal to the State of Tamil Nadu. [Lakshmi Bhavya Tanneeru v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4994, decided on 16-11-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Anwesh Madhukar, Ms Prachi Nirwan and Ms Tanima Gaur, Advs.

For the Respondents:

Ms Bharathi Raju, CGSC for R-1.

Ms Madhumita Bhattacharjee, Adv. for R-2.

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