HP HC strikes hard on political transfers, issues guidelines

The Himachal Pradesh High Court issued guidelines regarding transfers of state government employees and directed the government to amend the transfer policy by February 28.

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court Wednesday issued guidelines regarding transfers of state government employees and directed the government to amend the transfer policy by February 28.

A division bench comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Rajiv Sharma, while disposing off a bunch of petitions filed by aggrieved employees, also said that any violation of these directions would be treated as "contempt of court".

The court took exception to the transfers being ordered on political grounds or extraneous reasons and said: "No transfer should be ordered on behest of party workers or others who have no connection either with the legislature or the executive as these persons have no right to recommend that an employee should be posted at a particular place."

Giving the guidelines, the court said instead of only two category of stations- Hard and Tribal areas- the government should bring the station under five categories-- A, B, C, D, and E- and most easy stations in urban areas like Shimla, Dharmshala, Mandi may fall in A category and most difficult stations in the remote corners of the state such as Pangi, Dodra Kawar, Kaza etc. Should fall under the lowest category.

At the same time, the home town or area adjoining to home town of the employee, regardless of its category, otherwise can be treated as category A or at least in a category higher than its actual in which the employee would normally fall.

After the categorisation of stations, a database of all employees be maintained in different departments to find out that in which category of station(s), a particular employee has served throughout his career and an effort should be made to ensure that every employee serves in every category of stations.

The court said that an exception can be made in certain hard cases, keeping in view the problems of a particular employee, but whenever such exception is made, a reasoned order must be passed why policy is not being followed.

Dealing with the issue of political patronage, court said
that there can be no manner of doubt that the elected representatives do have a right to complain about the working of an official, but once such a complaint is made, it must be sent to the head of the administrative department for verification and the employee can be transferred only if the complaint is found to be true.

The court made it clear that the elected representatives cannot have a right to claim that a particular employee should be posted at a particular station and this choice has to be made by the administrative head and not by the legislators.

The court further directed that whenever any transfer is ordered not by the departments, but on the recommendations of a minister or MLA, then the view of the administrative department must be ascertained before ordering the transfer and approval of administrative departments should be sought.