5 Sep 2023 4:55 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently(August 28) issued notice to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a petition filed by a Court staff challenging his transfer. The petitioner also sought the implementation of a clear and transparent transfer policy for staff of the district judiciary. He contended that in the absence of a transfer policy, Grade III and IV employees working in subordinate courts under...
The Supreme Court recently(August 28) issued notice to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a petition filed by a Court staff challenging his transfer. The petitioner also sought the implementation of a clear and transparent transfer policy for staff of the district judiciary. He contended that in the absence of a transfer policy, Grade III and IV employees working in subordinate courts under the High Court faced arbitrary transfers which are often punitive in nature.
The petitioner called for the implementation of recommendations made by the committee headed by Justice Surya Kant (presently Supreme Court judge) on 17.02. 2017 for formulation of a comprehensive and transparent policy for employees, in the Punjab and Haryana Subordinate Courts Establishments.
The Committee had recommended as following-
The petition stated: “The present inter se district transfer committee constitutes of judges of P&H HC. For fair adjudication and to prevent victimisation of employees who raise the issue of harassment, the committee should consist of retired HC judges.”
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Sanjay Karol was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed against a High Court judgment which had dismissed the petitioner’s plea to consider his representation for transferring him back to Ludhiana. He had sought for revocation of his transfer on humanitarian grounds citing the ill health of his wife.
The petitioner was an employee of the District Court at Ludhiana had been transferred to Mansa. He claimed that he had earlier taken up the role of a whistleblower, raising concerns and grievances on behalf of colleagues. He had also challenged a punishment imposed on him and in 2019, the High Court on its judicial side ruled in his favour, finding that the punishment was unlawful.
Against this backdrop, he put forth a case that the rejection of his representation seeking retransfer is malafide. He contended that he had been unfairly treated compared to the other staff members, as their representations had been favourably considered while his case had been overlooked.
The petitioner was represented by Advocate Prashant Bhushan who alleged that the transfer had been made in bad faith, based on false and inaccurate feedback provided to the High Court.
Adv Prashant Bhushan alleged that there was continuous harassment faced by Grade III and IV employees within the Punjab & Haryana High Court, which has reportedly led to employees resigning from their positions. His plea pointed out that the matter escalated to the extent that, in 2015, the High Court sought suggestions from session divisions to address the issue.
The plea highlighted that the High Court had made decisions based on sealed cover minutes of meetings, which were not made available to the petitioner, potentially violating principles of natural justice.
Taking note of the petitioner's status as a whistleblower and the recommendations of the Judges Committee, the Supreme Court bench issued a notice to the respondent.