The Madras High Court has directed Tamil Nadu government to make efforts to allot within two months the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests cadre post to the first woman Indian Forest Service officer of the state.
The division bench, comprising justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and justice K. Ravichandra Baabu, dismissed an appeal of the state government challenging a CAT order directing government to reinstate the officer Aruna Basu Sarcar in the additional APCCF cadre post.
Government must make earnest efforts to allot her APCCF cadre post within two months, the court said, dismissing the appeal.
The bench did not agree with the argument that a government servant must first join duty at the transferred post. “It is seen that the post of dean (forestry) is not equivalent to the post of APCCF,” the court said.
The bench did not accept government’s claim that pay protection had been extended to her.
In its order, the bench said “mere extension of pay protection would not satisfy in any way” and said if she had already applied for leave, it would be treated as earned leave if it is in her credit, or else to treat it as leave without pay.
The officer, known for her crackdown on smuggling of sandalwood and redsanders, was first transferred out from her position as additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF-Research), and then posted to Tamil Nadu Forest Academy in Coimbatore before being sent to the chief conservator of forests CCF-cadre dean post at TNAU on February 21, 2015.
She then went on leave, and later on medical leave, from March 2, 2015.
The Central Administrative Tribunal had held that her transfer as University dean would amount to downgrading her position and directed government to reinstate her in APCCF cadre post.
Immediately after the relief, Sarcar wrote to the chief minister’s cell, stating that she had been shunted out to a subordinate position despite the fact that three APCCF cadre posts were available in the state. Two of them were lying vacant for more than six months, she had pointed out.
The state authorities challenged the CAT ruling after waiting out the whole appeal period of three months.