Repatriation to parent cadre: SC issues notice to Centre on Army officer’s plea challenging Bombay HC order

The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre and others on a plea filed by an Army officer challenging an order of the Bombay High Court which upheld the Central Administrative Tribunal’s (CAT) decision on his repatriation order.

The CAT had refused to set aside the officer’s plea on grounds that it no jurisdiction on the issue.

In the top court, a bench of Justices A S Bopanna and M M Sundresh issued notice to the Union of India, the chairperson of the Armed Forces Tribunal and others while seeking their replies in two weeks.

“Issue notice to respondents. List after two weeks,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Lt Col Anjan Kumar Sinha against an order of the high court which rejected his plea challenging the direction of the CAT.

The high court had said the CAT has rightly arrived at a conclusion that it had no jurisdiction to decide Sinha’s plea.

The high court had said merely because the petitioner was posted on deputation with the Armed Forces Tribunal, it would not in any manner obliterate or extinguish his basic employment as a member of the armed forces.

“The appointment on deputation in the present case, would certainly not amount to a change being brought about in the employer of the petitioner. The basic employment of the petitioner and all conditions of service attached to his employment as a member of the armed forces have continued to operate.

“The petitioner is, therefore, not correct in assuming that his employment with the armed forces has come to an end the moment he accepted the appointment on deputation and the armed forces tribunal has become his new employer,” the high court had said.

The CAT had dismissed Sinha’s plea on grounds that it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the original application, leaving him to seek redressal of his grievances, before the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Sinha was appointed in the services of the Indian Army. Later, in response to the office circular dated October 19, 2020, issued by the Armed Forces Tribunal, Principal Bench at New Delhi, he made an application for appointment to the post of Registrar with Armed Forces Tribunal, on deputation.

On March 7, 2022, the Armed Forces Tribunal accepted the application of the petitioner, informing him that he was selected for appointment to the post of Registrar, on deputation, for a period of three years.

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The appointment was subject to the terms and conditions as set out in DOPT Office Memorandum dated June 17, 2010.

Sinha accepted the appointment on deputation, by accepting the terms and conditions as set out in the Office Memorandum, and communicated his acceptance by his letter dated May 6, 2022.

Later, by an order dated May 10, 2023, the competent authority thereafter took a decision to prematurely repatriate the petitioner on administrative exigencies, to his parent office.

Aggrieved by the said order, Sinha approached the CAT bench at Mumbai, praying that the repatriation order be quashed and set aside.

However, the CAT rejected his application.

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