Utt HC | Problem of vacant posts not related to transfers; State’s fault for not taking necessary steps forthwith to fill up vacancies

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, C.J. and Alok Singh, J. contemplated an application by the State Government seeking a modification of judgment passed by a Division Bench of the same High Court and to bring it in consonance with the relevant provisions of  Uttarakhand Annual Transfer for Public Servant Act, 2017.

The judgment in 2018 was passed in public interest litigation; it highlighted the pathetic situation of higher education in the State. The Court noted earlier that, schools in Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar had a majority of teachers while in other districts the schools had no or one teacher. Court by its order of 2018 had prohibited transfer/posting of teachers and lecturers to be made to the plain areas of Dehradun etc. until 70% of the posts of teachers in all Primary Schools, Junior High Schools and Colleges were filled up. The Division Bench permitted the State Government to relax the Rules, regarding the posting of teachers, to fulfill this obligation.

The State contended that relaxation must be given in transfer from hilly to plain areas, in favour of Government servants suffering from serious ailments or one of the spouses is suffering from such ailments. The counsel for the State, Pradeep Joshi submitted that, relevant provisions of Act, 2017 allowed the request applications by seriously ill or disabled employees or on the basis of spouse’s ailment; transfer committee was also permitted to consider such request.

BS. Adhikari learned Amicus Curiae, fairly stated that cases, where employees or their spouses are suffering from serious ailments, deserve ‘sympathetic consideration’, under the guise of effecting transfer on the ground of serious ailment, teachers working in hilly areas may be surreptitiously brought down to the plain area rendering schools empty. Learned Amicus Curiae suggested that transfers, on grounds of ailments, should be made only with the prior approval of this Court. Alternatively, a condition should be imposed that whenever an employee is sought to be transferred, from the hilly areas to the plains, another teacher be transferred from the plains to the hilly areas to ensure that the schools and colleges in the hilly areas are adequately manned.

The Court observed that, requests for transfer or retention on this ground should be carefully examined by the Transfer Committee and only if it falls within the ambit of Section 3 (d), should such request be considered. Only cases of serious ailments, which the Committee was satisfied, should alone be considered and not each and every request made on this ground. Transfer Committee should, examine documentary evidence and record its satisfaction that the documents are genuine, and it is a fit case for effecting transfers on this ground.

The Court appreciated the views of Amicus Curiae and directed the Committee to record reasons in writing regarding efforts made to fill up the vacant post by the teachers who are transferred. Further held, “All these problems would stand resolved if the State Government takes necessary steps forthwith to fill up all the posts of teachers in the State of Uttarakhand, for it would then hardly matter whether an employee is posted in the hilly areas or in the plains.” Court also directed the State to fill up all the vacancies within the stipulated time and modified the order of 2018.[Daulat Ram Semwal v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 352, decided on 10-05-2019]

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