The Bombay High Court recently observed that a sitting MLA and a Cabinet Minister in the BJP-run state government had influenced the transfer of a government servant. The court made the observation while hearing a writ petition filed by one Balasaheb Tidke, a 45-year-old sub-divisional officer, Thane. In response, the state government has now assured the court in an affidavit that provisions of the Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act, 2005 will be strictly followed while issuing transfer order.
A division bench of Justice AS Oka and Justice SK Shinde observed that the state government had itself taken a stand that only based on the recommendations of the said cabinet minister, the Chief Minister had modified proposal submitted by the department for transfers. We may note here that, there are more than one recommendation made by the same Hon'ble Minister, the court said. It had, in an earlier order, asked the Chief Secretary to give an explanation regarding the procedure followed by the state government.
In a letter dated December 11, 2017, addressed by Manisha Ashok Chowdhary, MLA to the Chief Minister, it is stated that the present petitioner, who was holding the post of sub-divisional officer, Mangaon Raigad, has requested for transfer and, therefore, his request should be sympathetically considered and he should be transferred to the post of sub¬divisional officer, Thane. In the second letter dated January 2, 2018, written by Girish Mahajan, Minister in the Government of Maharashtra, addressed to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, it is stated that the petitioner has made a request that he may be appointed to the post of Resident Deputy Collector, Thane, and the Chief Minister may issue necessary directions. A third letter dated May 2, 2018, written by Girish Mahajan to the Chief Minister records that the petitioner has been transferred to the post of Deputy Collector (General), Collector's Office, Thane, and he has requested that he should be posted as a sub-divisional officer, Thane. Mahajan requested the Chief Minister to modify the order dated February 3, 2018, and issue necessary direction to the concerned for posting the petitioner as the sub¬divisional officer, Thane.
Petitioner Tidke argued that he never met either the MLA or the Cabinet Minister, he alleged that the said letters were misleading and had actually been written at the behest of Prashali Dighavkar, who replaced the petitioner as sub-divisional officer, Raigad. He said the transfer order was illegal as the prescribed procedures were not followed.
In an order dated November 3, 2018, the court noted:
"Shri Shripat Shinde who is an Under Secretary in the office of Revenue and Forest Department has filed an affidavit in which he has categorically admitted that it is only on the recommendation of the Hon'ble Minister Shri Mahajan and Hon'ble Member of Vidhan Sabha Smt.Chowdhary that the Hon'ble Chief Minister modified the proposal submitted by the department on 30th November 2017."
The court had then asked the Chief Secretary of the State Government to file an affidavit explaining as to how such recommendations were considered in the matter of transfer especially now when the transfers are governed by a statute. The affidavit was directed to be filed by the Chief Secretary on or before November 30, 2018. The affidavit was supposed to state the measures which the state government wants to take to ensure that transfers are strictly made as per law and should not be influenced by the political leaders.
In the hearing on December 3, AGP appearing on behalf of the State had assured the court that process of transfer will not be influenced by recommendations made by elected representatives and ministers who are not concerned with the process of transfers. In his affidavit, Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain stated-
"I am filing the present Affidavit for the limited purpose of stating that the process of transfer at the level of the Government will not be influenced by any recommendations made by any political leaders, members of political parties or any Hon'ble Ministers who are not part of the process of transfers."
The court accepted the affidavit and concluded-
"We direct that the statements made in para-1 of the said Affidavit are brought to the notice of all the concerned who have to exercise powers of transfer under the said Act of 2015 so that there will not be any attempt to make any recommendations thereby influencing the process of transfers of the Government Servants."
Read the Judgment Here