The Allahabad High Court recently quashed an order of transfer of a Government Officer against whom an inquiry was instituted in which there was a reference of the Facebook page post (related to Mr. Amit Shah, the then Adhyaksh, Bhartiya Janta Party) which the officer made on 15.07.2015 much before the joining as Designated Officer on 15.09.2015.
The Bench of Justice Sangeeta Chandra quashed the order of transfer dated 11.09.2020 with a direction to the State Government of Uttar Pradesh to reconsider passing appropriate orders.
It may be noted that the inquiry order dated 11.09.2020 was primarily instituted against him for his alleged misconduct of not taking timely action against M/s Bhagwati Enterprises for Krishna Bhog Chhena adulterated Powder.
The matter before the Court
A plea was filed by the petitioner (Designated Officer, Food Security) challenging the order dated 11.09.2020 by which an inquiry was instituted against him for his alleged misconduct of not taking timely action against M/s Bhagwati Enterprises for Krishna Bhog Chhena adulterated Powder.
It may be noted that the Food sample of Sri Krishna Bhog Chhena Powder was found sub-standard and unsafe for human consumption in the report submitted by the Food Security Officer.
Apart from challenging the inquiry order dated 11.09.2020, he also challenged the transfer order dated 11.09.2020 by which he was transferred from Agra where he was posted as Designated Officer, Food Security to the Headquarters at Lucknow.
Case of the Petitioner
It was the case of the petitioner that he was selected by the U.P. Public Service Commission, on 15.09.2015 and was posted at Barabanki as Designated Officer. On 30.06.2019 he was transferred to Agra.
He asserted that the order impugned was passed by making observations that the petitioner, before he was selected and appointed as Designated Officer, had made some objectionable posts on his Facebook page against Mr. Amit Shah, the then Adhyaksh, Bhartiya Janta Party.
He submitted that he could not be punished for something done by him before being selected and appointed as Designated Officer on 15.09.2015.
The Court noted that the order (transfer order) was passed as a consequence of the order instituting the inquiry against the petitioner.
To this, the Court said,
"In case, the inquiry has been instituted and the Inquiry Officer is stationed at Kanpur, it would have been appropriate for the petitioner to be attached in the office at Kanpur so that the disciplinary proceedings against him may be concluded expeditiously."
The Court also remarked,
"This Court does not appreciate the reference made in the impugned order dated 11.09.2020 instituting the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner, of the Facebook page post which he made on 15.07.2015 much before the joining as Designated Officer on 15.09.2015." (emphasis supplied)
However, the Court refused to stay the inquiry proceeding initiated against the petitioner on 11.09.2020, as the Court noted,
"Even if the said reference is ignored there is another charge levelled against him of not taking action against M/s Bhagwati Enterprises which needs to be inquired into by the Enquiry Officer."