Employees must obey the orders of their superiors, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE VIVEK SINGH THAKUR, in the case of Dinesh Gulati v. state of Himachal Pradesh andothers (C.W.P. No. 2183 of 2021)
Brief facts of the case:
Petitioner Dinesh Gulati has petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate two rulings. One dated March 26, 2021, by which the petitioner, appointed at District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) Nahan, District Sirmour, HP, was repatriated to his parent department- the Higher Education, posted at GSSS Dhamwari, District Shimla, HP against vacancy as Lecturer Mathematics.
In the second order, the private respondent was transferred from GSSS Ludhiana, District Sirmour, to DIET Nahan, District Sirmour, HP to fill a vacancy.
The petitioner challenged his repatriation and transfer order on the grounds that he was transferred on the basis of a DO letter, but not for administrative exigency, despite the fact that for the past 18 years, he has performed his duties to the best of his abilities at DIET Nahan, and that his repatriation, posting, and transfer of the private respondent is in violation of norms notified by the Education Department in a notification dated October 10, 2002.
The petitioner said that in addition to his academic credentials for employment as a Lecturer in Mathematics, he also possesses the Master of Education (MEd) degree, which is required for appointment as a Lecturer in Education at DIET.
Sanjeev Bhushan, Counsel for the petitioner, argued that issuance of orders based on complaints against the petitioner is an act of malice in law, as a transfer based on complaints, in lieu of punishment but without enquiry is not permissible, and an employer is required to conduct an enquiry prior to transferring an employee based on complaints.
Desh Raj Thakur, Additional Advocate General, argued that despite the fact that the Government of Himachal Pradesh issued a notice on October 10, 2013, it has not yet been implemented, nor has the protocol and process for inducting staff into DIETs been followed.
Rather, personnel are transferred to and from DIET via transfer, but only after consultation with the State Project Director of Samagra Shiksha Himachal Pradesh and the prior consent of the appropriate authorities; the same procedure has been followed in the present case.
The petitioner was not singled out by following a different procedure for his repatriation; rather, the same procedure has been adopted for passing the orders, which is in practise and is followed in the case of every similarly situated employee to be posted in and/or repatriated from DIETs; therefore, the process and procedure adopted for passing the orders is justified.
The AAG also stated that the petitioner was repatriated and transferred on the recommendation of the State Project Director of Samagra Shiksha, Himachal Pradesh, for the smooth functioning of DIET and the maintenance of a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere in the institution, following a thorough investigation of the facts and taking into account the petitioner’s persistent disregard for discipline.
Mr. Desh stated that the transfer of the petitioner was not in lieu of punishment, since a separate departmental investigation into the petitioner’s concerns had been authorised by the Competent Authority.
The court noted that the petitioner was assigned to DIET, Nahan on November 7, 2002, and has served in the same institution ever since. On December 3, 2016, the then-Principal demanded an explanation from him for not delivering his subject’s question papers for the house test of DElEd students until November 2016, despite the fact that the session had begun in April 2016.
The court also noted that the State Project Director had communicated to the Director of Higher Education via a letter dated 1 March 2021 that his office had received numerous complaints and counter-complaints regarding the affairs of DIET, Nahan, District Sirmour, and it appeared on the surface that the petitioner was causing indiscipline in said DIET.
In order to preserve the dignity and order of the educational institution, it was deemed essential to repatriate the petitioner. Through this message, it was also conveyed that the Government had authorised the proposal for the petitioner’s repatriation, and it was thus urged that the petitioner be repatriated from the DIET in the public good.
Upon receiving a complaint, it is not required that the Employer/Authority complete a routine departmental enquiry in order to transfer an employee. Prior to making an administrative transfer decision in such a circumstance, an investigation, factual verification, or preliminary enquiry must be conducted. For administrative reasons, the Authority/Employer cannot be required to wait until the conclusion of a departmental regular enquiry before transferring an employee.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI