Army personnel duty bound to serve wherever they are ordered to; petition assailing transfer to operational units dimissed: SC

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R.F. Nariman and Indu Malhotra, JJ. dismissed writ petitions filed by army personnel — Major, Lieutenant, and Sepoy — against their transfer from Army Service Corps. to operational units.

The petitioners challenged the transfer as violative of their fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21. They relied on the Supreme Court decision in Union of India v. P.K. Choudhury, (2016) 4 SCC 236. They submitted that in the case mentioned, the Court held that ASC is a non-operational unit based on the stand taken by Union of India. While the respondent-Union of India and Military Secretary Branch — assailed the maintainability of the petition. Furthermore, it was contended that an employee has no legal right, much less a fundamental right, to be posted in a particular place or to be transferred to a place of his choice.

The Supreme Court gave due consideration to the submissions made by the parties. It referred to the composition of Army to understand the contextual matrix of the case. It was seen that the ASC is a vital stream primarily responsible for ensuring the provisioning, procurement, and distribution of supplies. The Court held that the petitioners had failed to show how their fundamental rights were violated. Posting and transfers are a necessary incident of service. The case of P.K. Choudhury was distinguished as it was concerned only with promotions and not transfer. The petitioners did not make any submission that the posting was in violation of any statutory rule, executive policy or instruction. Furthermore, the Court referred to the Oath administered to all army personnel alike at the time of commissioning the relevant portion of which reads — “I hereby solemnly swear that I will … go wherever ordered, by land, sea or air…”.  The Court thus held that army personnel are duty bound to serve wherever they are ordered to. In view of the above, the petitions were dismissed. [Amod Kumar v.  Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1372, decided on 06-09-2018]

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