Cadre transfer of IPS officer: SC dismisses West Bengal govt’s plea against HC order

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the West Bengal government’s plea challenging an order of the Delhi High Court which had refused to interfere with the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) verdict asking the state to grant a no objection certificate (NOC) in a matter related to cadre transfer of an IPS officer from there to Rajasthan.

Sagar, the 2019 batch IPS officer of West Bengal cadre had moved the tribunal for change of cadre from the state to Rajasthan on the ground that his wife is also an IPS officer of the Rajasthan cadre and that similarly placed couples were allowed a change of cadre.

In an order passed in February this year, the tribunal’s Principal Bench in New Delhi had partly allowed the original application filed by the IPS officer of West Bengal cadre and directed the state to grant an NOC to him within four weeks, failing which the NOC shall be deemed to have been issued.

The tribunal had also said the Centre shall take immediate action for his cadre transfer from West Bengal to Rajasthan by passing an appropriate order within four weeks thereafter.

The West Bengal government had then approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the tribunal’s order.

A division bench of the high court had passed an order on March 15 this year dismissing the state’s plea, saying the tribunal’s order needed no interference.

The West Bengal government then approached the apex court challenging the high court order and the petition came up for hearing on Thursday before a bench of Justices S K Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

“The governments are very unreasonable some times. You litigate just for the sake of litigation. It is very unfortunate,” the bench observed.

The counsel appearing for West Bengal said the officer is seeking transfer of cadre on the ground of marriage.

“It is very unreasonable. You say let the wife come here (to West Bengal),” the bench said, asking, “You don’t want them to live together?”

The apex court, while dismissing the plea, said the West Bengal government shall pass reliving order within 10 days from Thursday, failing which it will be deemed as consent.

In its order, the high court had noted that the husband and wife are IPS officers of the 2019 batch and had married in November 2021.

It had also noted that in view of the marriage, the officer of the West Bengal cadre became eligible to make a request for change of his cadre to Rajasthan as per November 8, 2004 office memorandum of the Government of India regarding change of cadre.

He made a representation in that regard on January 4, 2022 and it was duly forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which in turn sent a letter in March 2022 to the Government of West Bengal for views and comments on his request to take further action, the high court had noted.

Similarly, a letter was also sent to the Rajasthan government, which in turn conveyed its consent through an April 11, 2022 letter.

However, despite a lapse of seven months, there was no response from the West Bengal government, the high court had noted.

It had said the case of the Centre before the tribunal was that inter-cadre transfer of an IPS officer recruited in the service is as per rule 5(2) of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules 1954 and the guidelines issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, and the same stipulates concurrence of the state government concerned for transfer of an officer from one cadre to another.

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The West Bengal government had said before the high court that Rule 5(2) says the same applies to either of the spouses and not only to the husband, and his wife being an all-India service officer is also entitled to seek transfer.

“The petitioner (West Bengal) after due consideration recorded that the cadre transfer of the respondent no.1 (husband) from West Bengal cadre to Rajasthan cadre would not be possible on account of acute shortage of IPS officers in the state cadre as the cadre strength in the state of West Bengal is 387 while the actual number of IPS officers presently in position is 300 only,” the high court order had noted.

The counsel representing West Bengal had highlighted before the high court that the actual cadre strength in the state was currently much below the actual requirement and as such, it was not possible to give consent for change of cadre.

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