Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ. and S.G. Chattopadhyay, J., dismissed a petition which challenged an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Guwahati, dismissing the original application.

Mother of the petitioner was an employee of the Accountant General(Audit), Tripura, Agartala and she died while in service on 25-01-2013, leaving behind the petitioner, his elder brother and daughter. The petitioner had applied for appointment on compassionate ground which was rejected by the department on the ground that at the time of death the petitioner was already married. However, subsequently, the case of the petitioner was reopened and reconsidered. However, the request was again denied on the ground that the family of the deceased had one earning member.

The petitioner thereupon approached the Central Administrative Tribunal. His original application was rejected mainly on the ground that the purpose behind giving compassionate appointment was to provide urgent financial assistance to a family left in distress and in the present case, the Government servant having expired long back, such purpose would not be fulfilled. Thus, the current petition was filed.

The Court was of the view that in facts of the present case they are not inclined to entertain this petition as records say that petitioner was aged about 33 years at the time of the death of his mother and was already married and the family had one member who was holding a permanent post in the department of Accountant General which was not disclosed while seeking compassionate appointment.

The Court dismissed the petition holding that the petitioner had a duty to make a clean disclosure about the survivors left behind by the deceased.[Babu Dhanuk v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 495, decided on 28-09-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Advocates:

For Petitioner(s): Mr Pradyot Maishan

For Respondent(s): Mr Biswanath Majumder, C.G.C.

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT): The Bench of Justice L. Narasimha Reddy (Chairman) and Mohd. Jamshed (Member) held that premature retirement does not amount to punishment rather in the instant case it was a measure to add efficiency and honesty in the departments.

The applicant joined the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as Junior Engineer (JE) (Civil) in the year 1988. Thereafter, he was promoted to the post of Assistant Engineer (AE) (Civil) on ad hoc basis with effect from 13-09-2018. Through an order dated 31-10-2019, the respondents retired the applicant, by invoking the power under Fundamental Rule (FR) 56 (j) and Rule 48 of the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, before the latter attained the age of superannuation and the representation made by the applicant was rejected.

The applicant contended that he rendered meritorious service ever since he was appointed and in recognition of the same, he was assigned additional charge of various important posts. He further contended that though he had been issued number of charge sheets, he was exonerated in most of them. Further, it was argued by the applicant that his ACRs for 31 years were not only Very Good, but also Outstanding in certain years, and that he was not involved in any departmental case in which any penalty was imposed, after his promotion in 2018, and that the impugned order could not be sustained in law.

It was stated by the respondents that with a view to bring transparency and efficiency in their Corporation, they constituted a committee of senior most officers to review the case of Group-B officers, who crossed the age of 50 years, and after verifying the entire record of the applicant, the committee recommended his premature retirement. It was stated that the applicant was imposed punishments of various kinds under DMC Services (Control and Appeal) Regulations 1959, and that was taken into account, while reviewing the cases on completion of certain length of service. Moreover, the respondent had also given a brief background of the penalties imposed on the applicant. The respondent contended that the applicant was retired from service, before he attained the age of superannuation and it was not a measure of punishment and the order was passed by invoking the power under FR56 (j).

In Baikuntha Nath Das v. Distt. Medical Officer, (1992) 2 SCC 299, the Supreme Court had laid down the following principles:

  1. “An order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment. It implies neither stigma nor any suggestion of misbehaviour.
  2. The order has to be passed by the government on forming the opinion that it is in the public interest to retire a government servant compulsorily.
  3. Principles of natural justice have no place in the context of an order of compulsory retirement. This does not mean that judicial scrutiny is excluded altogether. While the High Court or this Court would not examine the matter as an appellate court, they may interfere if they are satisfied that the order is passed a) mala fide or b) that it is based on no evidence or c) that it is arbitrary – in the sense that no reasonable person would form the requisite opinion on the given material; in short, if it is found to be perverse order.
  4. The government (or the Review Committee, as the case may be) shall have to consider the entire record of service before taking a decision in the matter. The record to be so considered would naturally include the entries in the confidential records/character rolls, both favourable and adverse.
  5. If a government servant is promoted to a higher post notwithstanding the adverse remarks, such remarks lose their sting, more so, if the promotion is based upon merit (selection) and not upon seniority.
  6. An order of compulsory retirement is not liable to be quashed by a Court merely on the showing that while passing it uncommunicated adverse remarks were also taken into consideration.”

Again, in Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand (2010) 10 SCC 693, and Punjab State Power Corporation v. Hari Kishan Verma, (2015)13 SCC 156, the Supreme Court took the view that consideration of the record of an officer in this behalf, could not be confined to any particular period and the record in its entirety, needs to be taken note of.

Hence, the Bench observed that the premature retirement by invoking the power under FR.56 (j) does not amount to punishment and it is a measure to add efficiency and honesty in the departments. The Bench stated,

“The Tribunal can certainly interfere with the order of premature retirement in case there does not exist anything adverse to the employee in his entire career. However, if some material or facts as such exist, the Tribunal cannot go into the adequacy thereof.”

Noticing that the applicant faced more than 20 proceedings, the Bench stated, that the amount of hardship undergone by the Corporation could easily be imagined which justified why the respondents thought it fit to retire the applicant prematurely than to keep him on their rolls.

As observed by the Supreme Court, the record of the employee, in its entirety needs to be taken into account and it could not be compartmentalised, hence, the fact that the applicant was promoted, made no difference.

Hence, the premature retirement granted to the applicant was held not to be a punishment as the applicant was allowed all the retirement benefits and the only difference was that the retirement took place a bit earlier. The Bench further held that if the Corporation felt that the premature retirement of the applicant would be in its interest as well as of the public, the Tribunal could not find fault with that decision.[Ankur Tyagi v. North Delhi Municipal Corpn., O.A. No. 1744/2020, decided on 16-07-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Applicant: Adv. Rajeev Sharma

For the Respondent: Adv. R.V.Sinha

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jyoti Singh, J.,  held that ‘service matter’ concerning the persons working in various Central Government Hospitals under the Ministry of Railway to be covered under the ambit of Section 14 (1) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, hence directed to approach Central Administrative Tribunal.

The instant petition was filed by the Indian Railways Medical Laboratory Technologists Association seeking the following reliefs:

“(a) The Members of the Petitioner Association be granted the benefits of 7th CPC at par with the counterparts/Railway Medical laboratory Staff working under the same Nodal Ministry and w.e.f. from the very day it got implemented i.e. 01-01-2016 and w.e.f. the date when the said recommendations were implemented by the Govt. of India, Respondent no. 2 and all the arrears etc. be paid to them as expeditiously as possible preferably in 3 months time from the very day it got implemented i.e. w.e.f. 01-01-2016.

(b) The benefits of the 7th CPC recommendations should be given with effect from the very day it got implemented i.e. 01-01-2016 with all consequential benefits including the consequences that entail therewith;

(d) The Costs of the present petition be awarded to the Petitioners and against the Respondents.”

Service Matter

Bench on perusal of the facts of the case expressed that the subject matter of the petition is a ‘service matter’ and the petitioner association comprises of persons working as Lab Assistants, Lab Technician, Lab Superintendents and Chief Lab Superintendents working in various Central Government Hospitals under the Ministry of Railway which is covered under the provisions of Section 14 (1) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.

Hence, the court stated that the petitioner is amenable to the jurisdiction of Central Administrative Tribunal.

Further while concluding, the Court added that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the present petition in light of Section 14(1) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 and the Constitution Bench decision in the case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 261.

Therefore, the petition was disposed of.[Indian Railways Medical Laboratory Technologists Assn. v. Ministry of Railways, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1637, decided on 17-12-2020]


Read more: Section 14(1) of the Administrative Tribunals Act

Jurisdictionpowers and authority of the Central Administrative Tribunal.—(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Actthe Central Administrative Tribunal shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdictionpowers and authority exercisable immediately before that day by all courts (except the Supreme Court [* * *]1) in relation to—

(a) recruitment, and matters concerning recruitment, to any All-India Service or to any civil service of the Union or a civil post under the Union or to a post connected with defence or in the defence services, being, in either case, a post filled by a civilian;

(b) all service matters concerning—

(i) a member of any All-India Service; or

(ii) a person [not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c)] appointed to any civil service of the Union or any civil post under the Union; or

(iii) a civilian [not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c)] appointed to any defence services or a post connected with defence,

and pertaining to the service of such member, person or civilian, in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India or of any corporation 2[or society] owned or controlled by the Government;

(c) all service matters pertaining to service in connection with the affairs of the Union concerning a person appointed to any service or post referred to in sub-clause (ii) or sub-clause (iiiof clause (b), being a person whose services have been placed by a State Government or any local or other authority or any corporation 3[or society] or other body, at the disposal of the Central Government for such appointment.

4[Explanation.—For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that references to “Union” in this sub-section shall be construed as including references also to a Union Territory.]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Amar Vivek Aggarwal, Gaurav Yadav and Chitwan Godara, Advocates.

For the Respondents: Jagjit Singh, Sr. Panel Counsel for R-1.

Vivek Goyal, CGSC for R-2.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., while addressing the grievance of UPSC aspirants in regard to cancellation of interviews to be held by the Selection Committee observed that,

Selection to the civil services, especially the IAS – a coveted service, cannot be a whimsical process. It has to follow certain norms, procedures and discipline.

Background

20 Non-State Civil Service Officers of the State of Rajasthan aspirants for the appointment of Indian Administrative Service of Rajasthan Cadre filed the present petition in the Non-SCS Category.

Purpose of filing the present petition was to challenge the letter issued by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)/ Respondent 1, in accordance to which interviews scheduled by the Selection Committee was cancelled.

Analysis and Findings

Bench stated that it is only considering the question of maintainability of the present petition and three aspects of maintainability i.e.

  • Territorial Jurisdiction of this Court to hear the writ petition
  • Forum non-conveniens
  • Availability of an alternate remedy in the form of CAT under Section 14 of the Central Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985

Territorial jurisdiction:

The primary grievance of the petitioner is against the Central Government and the UPSC and not the State of Rajasthan. Interviews that were to be taken place in Delhi.

This Court clearly had territorial jurisdiction, since the cause of action arose within the territory of Delhi and further because of the fact that both the UPSC and Central Government are within the jurisdiction of this court.

Forum non-conveniens:

Insofar as forum non-conveniens is concerned, the said principle is merely applied in order to determine the most convenient forum, with respect to the dispute.

Bench stated that due to hearings and transmission of records being virtual in any case, because of the pandemic, this Court does not feel compelled to reject this writ petition on the ground of forum non-conveniens.

Availability of alternate remedy:

Whether the Petitioners ought to be relegated to CAT, Jaipur Bench, to avail of their remedies under Section 14 of the Act?

In Savitur Prasad v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 12297, Division Bench observed as under:

“It is also trite to state that the scope of interference by a High Court in service matters and disciplinary proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is permissible only in cases of demonstrable lack of jurisdiction and perversity.”
Bench in the instant matter observed that High Courts have power to exercise jurisdiction, even if there is an alternative remedy inter alia on several grounds:
  1. If there is a violation of the Principles of Natural Justice;
  2.  If there are unprecedented or extraordinary circumstances that warrant exercise of jurisdiction under Art.226;
  3. The need to render substantial justice;
  4. If the act complained against is patently erroneous or perverse;
  5. If there is demonstrable lack of jurisdiction or perversity;
  6. If relegating the parties to CAT would not render substantial justice.
  7. The exercise of power under Article 226 is discretionary and depends on the question whether circumstances warrant;

While applying the above principles, the decisions of different courts are disparate and depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Court held that in the present case certain unusual and extraordinary circumstances are present.

Further, the Court added that, petitioners were left to suffer as the interviews were cancelled less than 24 hours before the scheduled time. Thus there appears to be some merit in the allegation of breach of Principles of Natural Justice as the Petitioners were never given an opportunity to deal with the allegations.

“…it is the settled position that the alternate remedy has to also be an efficacious remedy.”

Relegating the Petitioners to approach CAT would lead to further delays in their candidature being considered for selection to the IAS.

Supreme Court has in its recent decision on 7-10-2020, in Commissioner of Police v. Umesh Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 810 observed that irregularities in public recruitment have become a bane, leading to litigation in both Courts and Tribunals across the country.

Court in view of the above analysis made an observation that,

The cancellation of interviews as in the present case is not to be viewed solitarily as a one-off incident. It represents a deeper malaise in the selection, which ought to be conducted fairly and in a transparent manner.

When the Court finds that the selection mechanism is being impeded, successively, it cannot turn a blind eye.

Present case would require interference by the exercise of writ jurisdiction in order to examine as to whether the prescribed norms for selection were adhered to, and if not, then, to consider the remedial measures. The circumstances in the present case accordingly warrant interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. [Akul Bhargava v. UPSC, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1376, decided on 09-10-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT): A Division Bench of Justice L. Narasimha Reddy (Chairman) and A.K. Bishnoi (Administrative Member) took Suo Motu cognizance of the behaviour of an Advocate who made attempts to hoodwink the tribunal.

Background

Sanjiv Chaturvedi an IFS officer of Uttarakhand Cadre was on deputation to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi for some period who filed different Applications with regard to recording of ACRs and was represented by Mehmood Paracha, Advocate.

On completion of his deputation, he was repatriated to his parent cadre.

Advocate stated that the Supreme Court dismissed the SLP filed by the AIIMS, by imposing the cost of Rs 25,000. He was also informed that the adjudication before the Uttarakhand High Court and the Supreme Court was only about the power of the Chairman under Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 to stay the proceedings while dealing with an application for transfer and that issue no longer subsists, with the adjudication by the Courts.

Sanjiv Chaturvedi was flamboyant in his approach and was in fact exhibiting triumphalism in getting the order of stay passed in the transfer petition, set aside.

Adjournment | Contempt of Court

Further, the applicant i.e. Sanjiv Chaturvedi was also informed that he can argue the PTs themselves so that the issue can be given a quietus. That did not appeal to him and he went on almost browbeating the Chairman and trying to explain as to how the Tribunal should function.

At that stage, he was informed that his conduct before the Tribunal touched the border of the Contempt of Court and it is for him to choose the course of action. Thereupon, he sought adjournment.

Counsel for the respondent, Mehmood Pracha, stated that the Supreme Court dismissed the SLP filed by the AIIMS. Taking note of the said fact, he was asked to proceed with the PTs and advance the arguments which did not appeal to him.

Humiliation

Instead, Counsel Mehmood Parcha who is the respondent in the present matter, started humiliating the other side’s counsel saying that the Supreme Court has shown them their place by the imposition of Rs 25,000 costs and hence they have no right to plead before the Tribunal.

Browbeating the Chairman | Personal attack on Chairman

He created an unfortunate situation in the Court and was browbeating the Chairman through his gestures and dramatics. Seeing that his provocation was not yielding the expected results, Advocate went on to make a personal attack on the Chairman.

Further, he went on to say that he has a lot to be said about the Chairman and the proceedings should be held in camera.

Scandalising the Chairman

He was informed that he can say in the open Court whatever he intends and if that is not done, it would amount to scandalizing the Chairman. His behaviour continued in the same manner and he did not reveal anything.

The Court was full of Advocates of different standings and repeated requests were made by them to pacify the respondent but nothing affected him.

Section 25 of the Administrative Tribunals Act

It was also informed that the PTs are heard only the Chairman under Section 25 of the Act and if he i.e. the Advocate has any other suggestion, he could make it.

Yet, he continued his tirade.

In view of the above occurrence, Advocate was sent a notice requiring him to explain as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.

Delhi High Court took up the matter of contempt and referring to the Supreme Court decision in T. Sudhakar Prasad v. Government of Andhra Pradesh (2001) 1 SCC 516, and held that the tribunal alone has jurisdiction to hear and decide the contempt case.

The Supreme Court affirmed order in the contempt matter by rejecting SLP (Crl) No. 7850 of 2019 after the draft charge as provided by the Contempt of Courts (CAT) Rules, 1992 were framed on 19-07-2019 on the basis of the remarks and statements made by the respondent herein, in his capacity as an Advocate.

The respondent filed MA. No. 2471/2019 with three prayers viz., (i) to decide certain MAs filed in PT. No. 288/2017; (ii) to decide whether the Chairman has jurisdiction to hear the contempt case; and (iii) to pass orders in respect of draft charge dated 19-07-2019. The MAs were disposed of on 02-08-2019.

Vikramjit Banerjee, Additional Solicitor General appeared to assist the Tribunal.

Decision

Tribunal expressed that the matter falls under Rule 13(b) of the Contempt of Courts (CAT) Rules, 1992.

Criminal Contempt

Solicitor General, Vikramjit Banerjee, stated that even where an Advocate becomes emotional, during the course of hearing, there is a method of setting the things right and persistent behaviour of challenging the very authority of the Tribunal or attempting to denigrate the Chairman would clearly amount to criminal contempt.

To the suggestion made by the learned Additional Solicitor General that the matter can be given a quietus in case the respondent expresses regrets, the latter stated that he will stand by whatever he said in the Tribunal and during the course of proceedings and that there is no question of expressing regrets.

It is not uncommon that a party or his counsel whose view point is not being accepted by the Court gets agitated. Howsoever strong such feeling may be, they have to stop at a particular stage, even while making effort to drive home, their point.

Upholding the dignity of the Institution

Attacking an adjudicator or attributing motives would cut at the very root of the system.

Once the dignity and status of the Institution are compromised, it loses its relevance. The concept of Contempt of Court is evolved inter alia to protect the dignity of the Institution.

Further, the bench stated that in all respects, result in the PTs was poised in favour of the applicant himself. However, what is discerned from the beginning is that his effort was to exhibit the IFS Officer’s personality than to get the relief in accordance with the law.

Tone & Tenor of pleas

The tone and tenor of the pleas are such that the target was certainly highly placed officers and authorities. In an application for transfer, all the above-stated was totally irrelevant.

The matter reached its pinnacle when in the Open Court counsel said that the proceedings be heard in the Chamber because he has to say something about the Chairman.

Though when he was asked to say whatever he wanted to in the Open Court, he went beating around the bush and did not spell out anything.

Hoodwinked the Tribunal

Counsel and his client have hoodwinked the Tribunal at every stage and in all possible manners.

Soon after the contempt notice was issued, a contempt case was filed against the Chairman, in the Uttarakhand High Court. A Single Judge bench entertaining it issued notice. The Supreme Court stayed it.

Tribunal noted that, the attempt in the present case made to add to the personality of the applicant and his counsel and for that purpose, Tribunal became an easy target.

Further, the bench stated that it may take decades of dedicated service for an officer to be recognised for his efficiency or honesty.

For a hardworking Advocate, it would take quite some time to get recognition or fame. Unfortunately, recourse is taken by some, to short cuts, without realising that the one who prefers short cuts is bound to be cut short.The only unfortunate part of it is that severe damage is done to the Institutions, in the meanwhile

In view of the above, the tribunal held the counsel i.e. respondent herein to be guilty of Contempt of Court under Section 14 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

However, there would have been every justification for the tribunal, to impose the sentence, proportionate to the acts of contempt held proved against the respondent.

However, by treating this as a first instance, he has been let off with a severe warning to the effect that if he repeats such acts in future in the Tribunal, the finding that he is guilty of Contempt of Court, in this case, shall be treated as one of the factors in the proceedings, if any, that may ensue. [Tribunal on its own motion v. Mehmood Pracha, Cr. CP No. 290 of 2019, decided on 23-09-2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Tribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata: The Coram of Bidisha Banerjee (Judicial Member) and Nandita Chatterjee (Administrative Member) allowed the application granting the desired relief to the ailing applicant.

The applicant is an educated professional who had migrated to another state in search of livelihood. Given the current calamitous circumstances owing to the Covid19 pandemic, he ended up losing his job and returned to his native village in West Bengal, dejected. As a result of this unprecedented turn of events, the very survival of his family got jeopardized since he lost his source of income. Now, the applicant has pleaded for consideration of his exceptional case against any suitable vacancy in the postal Department.

The applicant has brought to light and extract from the letter by the Director-General. The crux of the said extract is that while filling up the positions, preference is to be given to candidates who have lost their main source of income.

Counsel for the applicant, P.C. Das submitted that going by the aforementioned extract, preference should be given to the applicant who happens to be an educated professional. Further, positions are lying vacant in certain divisions where the applicant can be accommodated. The counsel requested the tribunal for issuance of a direction to the competent authority regarding consideration of the representation dated 18-05-2020.

In view of the above the tribunal, being satisfied, directed the Competent Government Authority to examine the applicant’s representation and consider his candidature against a suitable post and issue an order with respect to the same so as to ensure the sustenance of the applicant and his family and alleviate his situation.[Laltu Pal v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine CAT 328, decided on 04-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jyoti Singh, J., refused to entertain a writ petition filed by a member of All India Services holding that the remedy lies with Central Administrative Tribunal.

Petitioner qualified the Civil Services Examination in the year 1986 and was allocated Indian Police Service (IPS) and assigned Haryana Cadre.

Petitioner assailed the empanelment dated 18-02-2019 made by UPSC and the subsequent appointment of respondent 4 as DGP, State of Haryana vide appointment order dated 18-02-2019.

Appointment of respondent 4 was initially challenged by the petitioner in the Supreme Court which was disposed of with the order that petitioner may approach the jurisdictional High Court.

UPSC Counsel raised an objection to maintainability and submitted that this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition.

He contended that, IPS is an All India Service, and thus petitioner is amenable to the jurisdiction of Central Administrative Tribunal.

Senior counsel for the petitioner further submitted that the present petition had been filed in terms of the liberty granted by the Supreme Court and thus it is not open to respondents to raise any objection to its maintainability.

Decision

Petitioner is a member of an All India Service, which is covered under Section 14(1)(b)(i) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985

Section 14(1)(b)(i) of the Act provides that, save as otherwise expressly provided in the Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal shall exercise on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, power and authority exercisable immediately before that day, by all Courts in relation to all service matters concerning a member of any All India Service.

Section 3(q) of the Act defines ‘Service Matters’ as all matters relating to conditions of a service and includes matters with respect to tenure, confirmation, seniority, promotion etc.

Constitution Bench of Supreme Court observed in the case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 261, that the Tribunals created pursuant to Article 323-A or under Article 323-B of the Constitution of India are competent to hear matters entrusted to them and will continue to act as only Courts of ‘first instance’ in respect of the areas of law for which they have been constituted.

Insofar as the jurisdiction of the High Courts is concerned, Supreme Court further observed that the jurisdiction conferred upon the High Courts under Articles 226/227 and upon the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, is a part of the inviolable basic structure of the Constitution.

While this jurisdiction cannot be ousted, other Courts and Tribunals may perform a supplemental role in discharging the powers conferred on the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

Thus, in view of the above stated Supreme Court decision, High Court cannot entertain the present petition and remedy of the petitioner lies only before the CAT. [Prabhat Ranjan Deo v. UPSC, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 738 , decided on 13-07-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): A Bench comprising of Divya Prakash Sinha, Information Commissioner allowed an appeal and directed the CPIO to adequately liaise with the officers to carry out his duties in the present matter.

In the pertinent case, the appellant has sought details of the sanctioned strength of SAS Grade, JAG, Senior-Scale Grade, Junior Scale Grade and Group-B in legal cadre of Indian Railways from the year 2000 to 2016. Details of the incumbents, names and details of the working place and revised list of the details against each grade issued in the light of orders of CAT were also sought for. The respondent submitted in return that since the seniority list of gazetted employees is made by Zonal Railways while list of non-gazetted employees is made by Railway Board, therefore consolidated information was not available.

The Court directed the CPIO to seek the assistance of the concerned holder of information and provide it directly to the appellant free of cost within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order. [Kasi Vishwanathan v. CPIO, 2019 SCC OnLine CIC 27, Order dated 06-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope of the powers of the Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the Bench of R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee, JJ said:

“The Chairman, like the Chief Justice of the Higher Courts or the Chief Judge of subordinate courts, may be higher in order of protocol and may have additional administrative duties and responsibilities. However, the Chairman, acting judicially, is equal to any other Member.”

In the case at hand, the CAT Chairman had stayed the proceedings pending before a Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court. The High Court had, hence, quashed the said order by the CAT Chairman.

Going through the provisions of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the Court noticed:

“A careful reading of Section 25 of the Act makes it clear that the Chairman deciding the question of whether a matter should be transferred from one Bench to another cannot grant interim stay of proceedings, there being no power conferred on the Chairman under the said section to pass such interim stay.”

It further elaborated on the scope of the powers of the CAT Chairman by stating that the Chairman may constitute Benches, shift members from one Bench to another, constitute Single Benches, Division Benches and even larger Benches, allocate business to the Benches and even transfer cases from one Bench to the other,

“but having done so he cannot interfere with the functioning of the Benches or tinker with its orders by passing interim orders in a transfer petition.”

Stating that an interim order passed by a court, on consideration of the prima facie case made out by an applicant, should ordinarily have been vacated by a Bench of coordinate strength after giving open notice to the applicant, the bench said:

“If the Chairman was of the considered opinion that there was urgency in the application for vacating the interim order, the Chairman ought to have assigned the application for vacating and/or vacation of the interim order to a Bench of two or more Members to consider whether the interim order should continue or be vacated. The Chairman could also have exercised his power to suo motu transfer the proceedings to another Bench without prior notice. The order of stay of the proceedings before the Nainital Bench is without jurisdiction and unsustainable in law.”

The Court upheld the decision of the High Court and held that the order of the Chairman of CAT staying proceedings before the two-member Bench was without jurisdiction and unsustainable in law as the CAT Chairman, being one amongst equals, could not have stayed proceedings pending before a larger Bench. [All India Institute of Medical Sciences v. Sanjiv Chaturvedi, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 118, decided on 01.02.2019]