Simply complying with the procedure specified in the Maharashtra Transfers Act, 2005, is not enough when it comes to “punishment transfers”.
Such transfers can’t be allowed unless an inquiry into the complaints against government servant are prima facie found correct, ruled the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) on Tuesday.
“Only receipt of a complaint can by no means be a sufficient reason to cut short the tenure, unless it is inquired and prima facie found to be correct,” observed the tribunal.
While setting aside the transfer of Mohan Shelte, divisional social welfare officer, Nashik, MAT vice-chairman RB Budhiraja said, “Without an inquiry, there can be no valid satisfaction of “exceptional or special reasons (as required by the Transfers Act for cutting short normal tenure of three years and transferring an officer mid-term).”
On June 1, Shelte was transferred to a Caste Certificate Verification Committee at Nashik – after serving just 11 months in his new posting. The transfer order had been issued on the basis of some complaints received against the officer, who had challenged the transfer before MAT.
Shelte’s counsel Arvind Bandiwadekar said before issuing transfer orders, the department neither disclosed the source of complaint against the officer nor did it enquire into the same, and therefore it could not be a basis of attributing misconduct to his client.
Referring to a circular, Bandiwadekar also said no action could be taken against government servants on the basis of any anonymous or pseudonymous complaints.
On the other hand, chief presenting officer Dinesh Khaire tried to justify the transfer order, stating that the procedure stipulated under the Transfers Act has been complied with.
But, the transfer order could not withstand legal scrutiny. Budhiraja struck it down saying the transfer order was apparently issued in haste and without relying on valid reasons.
The MAT vice-chairman directed the government to allow Shelte to continue to hold the post of divisional social welfare officer.