Delhi High Court questions West Bengal over handling of requests of AIS officers seeking transfers


The Delhi High Court has questioned West Bengal over its handling of the requests of All India Service (AIS) officers seeking inter-cadre transfer to other States.

A bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice Talwant Singh said that the West Bengal government was trotting out shortage of officers, as the reason, for rejecting the request of inter-cadre transfer, without placing the relevant material on record.

“We are noticing that, this approach has been taken, in matter after matter, by the petitioner (West Bengal government) where officer(s) have sought inter-cadre transfer to other State(s) on account of their marriage, and which has been refused on a similar ground,” the high court remarked.

“Unless the reasons set out in the order of refusal for inter-cadre transfer are backed by relevant material, it cannot pass muster of this Court,” it added.

The high court’s remark came while dismissing the West Bengal government’s appeal against an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal directing it to relieve a 2013 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of West Bengal cadre.

The IAS officer, in her application filed over five years ago on April 5, 2016, had sought transfer to Uttarakhand as she had married an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer of 2012 batch of Uttarakhand Cadre on November 26, 2015.

Citing this development, she submitted representation to the Central government on April 5, 2016, with a request to change her cadre from West Bengal to that of Uttarakhand.

The IAS officer stated that the Uttarakhand government expressed its no objection for the transfer and the Department of Personnel & Training (DoP&T) was waiting for the consent of the West Bengal government.

However, on November 30, 2016, the West Bengal government rejected her request stating the ground of shortage of IAS officers.

On her appeal against this rejection order, the Tribunal on July 22, 2021 set aside the November 30, 2016 order of the West Bengal government. The Tribunal, additionally, ordered the West Bengal government to “pass necessary orders” on the IAS officer’s transfer request within six weeks.

“In case the applicant is not relieved by that time, she shall be deemed to have been relieved on expiry of six weeks,” the Tribunal had ordered.

“The inter cadre transfer of AIS (All India Service) officers on the grounds of marriage is not something new…On certain occasions, the States from whose cadre the transfer is sought, pleaded the ground of shortage of officers. The Supreme Court held that such grounds cannot constitute the basis to deny the right of an officer to seek transfer in terms of the rules,” the Tribunal had remarked.

The high court concurred with the Tribunal’s decision noting that the IAS officer was entitled to seek inter-cadre transfer, in terms of Rule 5(2) of the Indian Administrative Services (Cadre) Rules, 1954, which provides for change of cadre.

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