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Transfers not a matter of choice for public servants: High Court
Observing that public servants can neither claim a place or post as a matter of choice, the Madras High Court has held that transfer orders issued on administrative grounds cannot be challenged in a routine manner. The scope of judicial review against such transfers is limited, the court added.
Dismissing a plea by R Sreenivasan, a staff nurse, challenging his transfer from Sundakamuthur Government Hospital in Coimbatore district to Kalavai in Vellore district, Justice S M Subramanian said that a transfer order can be challenged if it was issued by an incompetent authority that has no jurisdiction, or an allegation of mala fides or if the order violated the statutory rules in force.
“Even in case of raising an allegation of mala fides, the authority against whom such an allegation is raised, should be impleaded as party respondent in the writ proceedings in his personal capacity. In the absence of any one of these legal grounds, no writ proceedings can be entertained against an order of administrative transfer,” the judge added.
Noting that the Constitutional courts should exercise restraint while interfering with all such administrative transfers, Justice Subramaniam said if such grounds of mala fides were accepted at the threshold itself, every public servant would come to the court alleging that every such transfer orders were issued with ulterior motive or on personal vengeance. “Courts cannot give room for such pleadings to be raised by the public servants without any basis,” Justice Subramaniam said.
However, the court also cautioned the authorities to keep in mind that the power to transfer should be used without any bias and administrative transfers were to be issued for genuine reasons and not on personal vengeance or on any other extraneous consideration.
In the present case, except by stating that he is an office bearer of the Tamil Nadu Government Contract Nurses Welfare Association and the officials concerned have taken certain personal vengeance against him, the said allegations were not substantiated with enough materials on record, the judge said.
Further, raising the question as to whether the petitioner can show any family in this country having no problem or issues at all, Justice Subramaniam in his order said, “This court would like to remind the bravery shown by our Indian Air Force pilots in targeting the enemy terrorists’ camps inside the territory of Pakistan. The petitioner staff nurse/public servant also is excepted to show such courage and braveness in performing his duties.”