Bar Against ‘Inter-District Transfer’ Not Applicable To Govt Teachers With Disabilities: Orissa High Court

The Orissa High Court ruled in the case of Naba Krishna Mahapatra v. State of Odisha & Ors. (W.P.(C) No. 6880 of 2022), that the bar against “inter-district transfer” cannot be applied to teachers who are recognised as persons with disabilities. This significant ruling can be characterised as a remarkable quantum leap in the field of disability jurisprudence. It was decided in this manner through Dr. Justice Sanjeeb Kumar Panigrahi’s Single Judge Bench.

Facts of the Case: The petitioner requested an inter-district transfer from his current place of employment to Kundaposhi U.G.U.P School, Kuchinda under BEO, Kuchinda, Sambalpur district, which is close to his hometown, and this request was duly forwarded to the Director, Elementary Education, by the DEO, Jharsuguda. However, in an office decision dated 14.02.2022, the Director denied the petitioner’s request for an interdistrict transfer. The Director denied the petitioner’s request for an inter-district transfer while acknowledging the percentage of impairment (which was determined to be a 70% permanent handicap) and citing 1997 Rules, as revised and read with the Govt. Health and Family Welfare Department’s notification of 17.05.2016 must be read in conjunction with the notification dated 04.10.2018, which is the Guidelines for Inter-District Transfer. In response to this rejection, the petitioner filed a writ petition with the High Court.

The petitioner’s counsel, Mr. Dillip Kumar Mohapatra, emphasised that the government announcement dated 04.03.2018 governs the field in the assailed order. “The transfer cases of individuals with disabilities will be examined on the basis of certification of the disability by the State Medical Board,” the aforementioned guideline’s Clause-L expressly states so. He argued, however, that the Director had not taken into account the aforementioned facts when rejecting the claim, and he further claimed that he had not even seeked the Government for clarity on the issue.As per the provisions of the Odisha Elementary Education (Method of Education, Method of Recruitment, and Conditions of Service of Teachers and Officers) Amendment Rules, 2014 and 2019, the petitioner’s service comes under the District cadre, and as per the said District cadre, the petitioner’s service is confined to Jharsuguda district only and there is no rule governing in the field for his transfer to the district of his choice i.e. Sambalpur and the same is not permissible., according to Mr. Sonak Mishra, Standing Counsel.

Judgement: The Gujarat High Court’s ruling in Dipika Kantilal Shukla v. State of Gujarat, which held that the state must act within the guidelines they have established, or it will remain nothing more than a formality on paper, was also cited by the Court in its judgement. It was also mentioned in the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s ruling in Kamlesh Sharma v. The State of Madhya Pradesh, which dealt with the transfer of people with disabilities, acknowledged legislation that had been passed to uphold international agreements and to treat people with disabilities equally.

The Court thus ruled that a person with a disability would not be subject to the 1977 regulations’ prohibition on interdistrict transfer. Furthermore, a person with a disability may be transferred across districts under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016, when taken in conjunction with the Government Notification. The Director thus revokes the rejection order contained in the office order dated 14.02.2022. Thus, the Director was ordered to complete the transfer procedure within three months.

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