1. Home
  2. /
  3. High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad
  4. /
  5. 2002
  6. /
  7. January

Bishan Pal Malik And Ors. vs State Of U.P. And Ors.

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|20 December, 2002


JUDGMENT Sunil Ambwani, J.
1. The petitioners posted as Sub-Inspectors in U. P. Civil Police, have challenged the orders dated 10.8.2002 issued by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Establishment) U.P. Police Headquarters, Allahabad, by which they have been transferred from Bulandshahr to different zones in the State of U. P. They have also prayed for quashing the order dated 11.8.2002 issued by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bulandshahr, communicating orders of their transfer, and indicating the districts to which they have been transferred.
2. I have heard Sri Ashok Khare, Senior Advocate, assisted by Sri Vikram D. Chauhan for petitioners ; and learned Advocate General, assisted by Sri Hanuman Upadhyaya, Additional Chief Standing Counsel for respondents.
3. Transfer orders have been challenged on the ground of colourable exercise of powers by the State Government. According to the petitioners, there did not exist any administrative or other justifiable grounds for their transfers which were not otherwise due. There were no complaint against their work and conduct. An incident took place on 8.8.2002 within the territorial limits of police station, Khurja City, district Bulandshahr, in which an altercation had taken place between one Chatar Pal Singh, Senior Sub-Inspector, posted at polfce station Khurja City and the driver of vehicle, being used by the father of Chief Minister of the State. A general diary entry was made by Sri Chatar Pal Singh of police station, Khurja City, Bulandshahr, stating that at about 9.00 a.m. when he was proceeding from his present residence to lodge Vikrant Chaudhary in the District Jail, Bulandshahr in Case Crime No. 619/02, 11/5, 302/34, 182, P. S. Khurja Nagar, a white colour Mahendra Jeep was standing in front of registry office at Puranl Tahsil Road in the middle of road on account of which a traffic congestion has taken place on the spot. Having found the space, he crossed the jeep from its side ; the jeep driver carelessly and under excitement, suddenly opened the door of the vehicle without taking care of traffic, whereupon he fell down and suffered injuries on both his bones and right hand and the bullet motor cycle was damaged as well as his uniform was torn on which he arrested the driver on the spot. The gentleman, sitting in the jeep, was identified as father of Hon'ble the Chief Minister and apologises for the mistake of driver on which he allowed the driver and jeep to proceed. He also proceeded to S.S.M.J. Hospital, Khurja Nagar for treatment.
4. On 9.8.2002, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Meerut Range, Meerut, conducted an inspection and immediately thereafter impugned orders have been passed. Learned counsel for the petitioners relied upon the averments made in para 39 of the writ petition in which it has been stated that it is solely on account of the aforesaid incident which had taken place that all the police officers belonging to Jat Thakur community and posted as Sub-Inspectors or Inspectors in district Bulandshahr have been transferred to district places even though none of them has been due for any such transfer. It is further stated in para 40 of the writ petition, that in fact, a list of Sub-Inspectors posted in Bulandshahr had been asked for by the Police Headquarters and as also the Inspector General of Police (Establishment) and the same was sent by fax to the aforesaid authorities. Annexure-4 to the writ petition is the list of 125 Sub-Inspectors, Civil Police, posted at Bulandshahr. Their names, caste, home district and date of posting at Bulandshahr have been described in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th columns respectively in the list. It is submitted that the list contained all the confidential information pertaining to each of the Sub-Inspector posted in district and such list can only be prepared by the person having access to the service record of all the Sub-Inspectors. This list surprisingly contains a separate column specifying the caste of every Sub-Inspectors, belonging to Jat or Rajpoot community have been picked up for transferring out of district Bulandshahr and not even a single Sub-Inspector belonging to Jat or Rajpoot community continues to be posted in district Bulandshahr. The incident was widely published in news papers which triggered immediate response for transferring all the Sub-Inspector, belonging to Jat and Rajpoot community posted at Bulandshahr. It is contended that the Government does not justify the pattern of transferring them from Bulandshahr to different districts and far away places, as they were posted at Bulandshahr for periods ranging from one year to nine years arid that there was no uniform policy and that the transfer orders have not been passed for achieving administrative purpose or in the exigency of administration, except to punish the Sub-Inspectors of particular caste as a whole which amounts to colourable exercise of powers. It is submitted that such exercise of administrative powers is detrimental to public purpose, especially to police personnels, and affects their morale, efficiency and divides the entire police force on caste lines and causes invidious discrimination.
5. In the counter-affidavit of Sri Badri Prasad Mishra, Deputy Superintendent of Police, U. P. Police Headquarter, Allahabad, it is stated that as per paragraph 520 of Police Regulations, the Inspector General of Police is empowered to transfer any non-gazetted/employee of civil police to any part of the State of U. P. The Deputy Inspector General of Police of the range is empowered to transfer Sub-Inspectors, Head Constables and Constables within his range and the Senior Superintendent of Police in a similar matter within the district. Regulation 520 also provides for the maximum tenure for the non-gazetted officer of the police force by way of posting in a district for not more than six years in the case of Sub-Inspectors, and ten years in the case of Head Constables respectively. A Sub-Inspector may not be posted for more than three years and in case of head constable, for not more than five years. For better administration of law and orders the period of posting has been evolved. Taking into consideration, the special nature of functions to be discharged by the police force, the standard of policy of transfer is different from other services. In prevailing circumstances or situation even mid-session transfers and called for and are effected and in consequence, a police officer could be transferred from one place to another. The Government order dated 11.7.1986, provides that a S.I. may not be posted in his home district nor in the adjoining district to the home district. It also provides for maximum period for posting at one particular place. All the police Officers have been transferred, as mentioned in the writ petition, from Bulandshahr district, in pursuance of the aforesaid policy. Their tenure of stay demonstrates that they have been in the region for fairly long time, and further, Bal Kishan Bhati and Mehar Singh, who are not petitioners in these writ petitions, being to Faridabad and Moradabad districts. Some of petitioners have been in Meerut Zone for 29 years, 32 years and 18 years which is against the spirit of the Government order dated 11.7.1986. In order to give colour to the transfer orders, petitioners have used the incident dated 8.8.2002 to show displeasure of Hon'ble Chief Minister of the State. Inspector Ratanpal Singh, who happened to be involved in the said incident and was facing departmental proceedings, belonged to Gujar community. In case the incident of 8.8.2002, had anything to cause displeasure to the Chief Minister, then the police officers of Gujar community would have been the victim of fury but it was not the case and that none of the transferees belong to Gujar community. It has been denied that the transfer of petitioners have any nexus to the incident of 8.8.2002. The learned Advocate General states that the transfers were caused only as administrative shake up for evolving better management of law and order and infusing dynamism in police force in the zone and in the district in particular which had slackened due to the long stay of the transferees. In the incident dated 8.8.2002, no officer belonging to Thakur community was involved as such branding the transfer orders as against Thakur community is wholly uncalled for. The police officers, involved in the incident of 8.8.2002 have been proceeded against separately by initiation of the departmental proceedings and their suspension. He submits that out of 25 transferees. 17 Sub-Inspectors have joined at their new place of posting. Similar exercise have been made in respect of districts at Pratapgarh, Saharanpur and Ambedkar Nagar. In the supplementary counter-affidavit, it has been stated that after the aforesaid transfer, district Bulandshahr has been provided with 13 Sub-Inspectors belonging to Jat community, 7 belonging to Thakur community. In all 32 Sub-Inspectors were transferred from various districts of U. P. to Bulandshahr, who had joined between 12.8.2002 and 24.9.2002. The transferred Sub-Inspectors to Bulandshahr included 13 Jats and 7 Thakurs. Out of them, 9 Jat Sub-Inspectors and 6 Thakur Sub-Inspectors had already joined. Thus, about 50% of the Sub-Inspectors have already reported at Bulandshahr and have Joined their duties, belonging to Thakur and Jat community, and they any interference with the transfer orders will cause major up-set and result into sufferance of public interest. It is further stated that out of transferred Sub-Inspectors, 9 Sub-Inspectors were transferred from Bulandshahr to Varanasi Zone ; 9 were transferred to Bareilly Zone ; 8 were transferred to Gorakhpur and one each to Kanpur Zone and Lucknow Zone. The transfer orders were accordingly modified. Further, the transfer order concerning Sub-Inspectors Udai Pal Singh, Vishanpal Singh Malik, Virendra Singh, Vijai Bahadur Singh, Yogendra Singh, Karan Singh, Ramji Lal, Randhir Singh and Bijendra Singh, who had been transferred to Varanasi Zone, was modified vide order dated 14.8.2002 and they were assigned to Bareilly Zone considering sympathetically the fact that they belonged to Western district. Similarly, transfer orders concerning Sub-Inspectors Ajai Kumar, Brij Mohan Singh, Gajram Singh, Kushapal Singh, Mahavir Singh. Mehar Singh and Thanedar Singh, who were initially transferred to Gorakhpur Zone was modified vide order dated 14.8.2002 so as to bring them closer to their region to which they belonged by assigning them Bareilly Zone. In the light of the above modifications, it is clear that the intention was not to victimise but, instead ; sympathetic approach has been adopted to ensure that they do not get subjected to harassment. Six of petitioners have sent applications to the Chief Standing Counsel, High Court. Allahabad, namely, petitioner Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13 to withdraw the writ petition. All the petitioners have Joined except petitioner No. 1 and that if he is still aggrieved, he may make representation to the authorities concerned to be considered sympathetically, keeping in mind the public interest.
6. A second supplementary-affidavit has also been filed on 22.10.2002 stating that on verification, it has been found that the order dated 11.8.2002, i.e., Annexure-1 to the writ petition ; is an incorrect copy. In fact, the original order, as issued by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bulandshahr, dated 11.8.2002, in consequence of the orders of the Police Headquarter, Allahabad, dated 10.8.2002, did not mention caste of the transferred police officers and that Annexure-4 to the writ petition, of which reference has been made in para 40 of the writ petition, lacks authenticity as the same does not indicate as to who is the sending authority since it does not bear signature, nor the said document mentions the fact as to whom it is addressed.
7. On the date of hearing, i.e., 22.10.2002, Sri Ashok Khare, senior advocate, filed a supplementary-affidavit of his registered clerk Sri Rajit Yadav stating that on 19.10.2002, seven envelopes, containing seven affidavits were personally given to him by a messenger whose identity is not known to him. The said envelopes contained the notarial affidavits of petitioners Karan Singh, Yogendra Singh, Mahavir Singh, Virendra Singh, Randhir Singh, Dilip Kumar Singh and Braj Mohan Singh sworn at district Meerut in different dates. The deponent Sri Rajit Yadav is not in a position to state as to whether the said affidavits have been sworn by the persons purporting to swear the same or not and that none of petitioners has met the deponent or Shri Vikram D. Chauhan, the advocate assisting Shri Ashok Khare, senior advocate, for withdrawing the writ petition on their behalf. These affidavits are in same terms and almost contain the same statement stating that the deponents have full confidence that the department is prepared to give justice to the petitioners to appoint them nearby their home districts and that the deponents withdraw the writ petition voluntarily without any pressure and that the writ petition be decided accordingly.
8. Learned Advocate General submits that there is no nexus of the incident dated 8.8.2002 with the impugned transfer orders and that the transfers were made in exercise of administrative powers. He has relied upon the various decisions of Supreme Court and this Court which will be discussed in the later part of the judgment to support the plea that transfer orders cannot be challenged except on the ground of mala fide or if they are prohibited by any service rules or are not passed by any competent authority and this Court cannot, in exercise of its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, cause judicial review of the transfer orders. According to him, much edifice has been sought to be built over caste factor in transfer which is not borne out from the record and that, in fact, most of the petitioners have joined and are not interested to pursuing the writ petition. According to him, petitioners 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13 have already joined and are not interested in pursuing the case. Only petitioner No. 1 has not joined and is absconding and disciplinary proceedings have been initiated and that a sympathetic view be taken in case he applies for change of place of transfer. The scope of judicial review of transfer under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has been settled by Supreme Court in the decisions of Mrs. Shilpi Base and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Ors. AIR 1991 SC 532, Union of India v. S. L. Abbas, 1993 (4) SCC 357, Rajendra Roy v. Union of India and Anr., 1993 (1) SCC 148, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd. v. Shri Bhagwari and another, 2001 (4) AWC 3053 (SC) : 2001 (8) SCC 574 and State Bank of India v. Aryan Sanyal and Ors., 2001 (5) SCC 508. This Court following the aforesaid principles laid by the Supreme Court in Vijay Pal Singh v. State of U. P. and Ors., 1997 (3) ESC 1668 and Onkarnath Tiwari v. Chief Engineer, Minor Irrigation Department, U.P., Lucknow and Ors., 1997 (3) ESC 1866, has held that the principle of law unfolded in the aforesaid decisions is that an order of transfer is a part of service conditions of an employee and is not required to be interfered with lightly by a court of law in exercise of its discretionary jurisdiction unless the Court finds that either the order is mala fide or that the service rules prohibit such transfer or that the authorities, who issued the orders, were not competent to pass the orders.
9. On the aforesaid facts and the narrow scope of interference in the transfers, the Court is posed with the question whether the circumstances, set out as above, amounts to mala fide exercise of administrative powers of transfer. This depends upon the fact whether the transfers were made in bona fide exercise of powers of transfer on the said policy decision of the department, without causing any discrimination or these were triggered as a knee jerk reaction out of incident which prompted the State administration to flush out the police officers, belonging to particular castes from the district to achieve oblique purpose in colourable exercise of powers of transfer.
10. Colourable use of powers or abuse of powers does not mean use of powers which may appear to be simply unreasonable or improbable. It implies a wilful abuse or intentional wrong, which entails adverse civil consequences. All the petitioners held transferable post. As a condition of service, they could be transferred at any place within the State of U. P, The powers to transfer police officers from one place of posting to another cannot be questioned. The powers, however, must be exercised in good faith and for achieving administrative efficiency. For this purpose the police department has framed rules and guidelines in order to maintain public faith in administration. These guidelines must be followed by the State Government. A police officer may not be allowed to stay at a particular place of posting for a long period. The exigency of service of a particular situation may also require mid-session transfer but these should be fair and proper. Ordinarily, a complaint of mid-session transfer, on demand of exigency should not be entertained. However, if the power has been exercised for the purpose other than for which it has been conferred upon the transferring authorities, the police officer has a right to approach the Court. The complaint in the present case is that the powers have not been exercised for the administrative exigency. It has been used for the purpose of flushing out police personnel belonging to a particular caste, triggered out of an action which involved the father of the Chief Minister. The transfer orders cannot be taken to have been passed in bona fide manner following the established transfer policies. In the present case, Sub-Inspectors were posted in Meerut Zone for a period varying upto twenty nine years. A look at the varying periods for which the transferred police officers served at Bulandshahr in Meerut Zone does not put them into homogeneous class to be clubbed together to serve any administrative purpose. They do not appear to have been transferred to serve any valid transfer policy.
11. The fact that the transferred police officers belong to Thakur and Jat community cannot be said to be a mere coincidence. There were other police officers in the same district serving for longer periods than the persons who had been transferred. The transfer orders do not show a uniform pattern or adherence to the policy of transfer. A statutory power conferred on the authority must be exercised for that purpose alone and if it is exercised for a different purpose, it amounts to abuse of power by the authority on which such action may be quashed. Improper exercise of power is distinguishable from 'mala fide' exercise of power. In the latter case, personal ill-will, malice or oblique motive is present, while in the former, it may not be so. One action of the authority may be bona fide and honest and yet, if it is not contemplated by the relevant statute, it may be set aside. In other words, "a power used under the misapprehension that it was needed for effectuating a purpose, which was really outside the law or the proper scope of the power, could be said to be an exercise for an extraneous or collateral purpose." in Pratap Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1964 SC 72, the Supreme Court cited a passage of Warrington L.J.R. v. Darlington School, 1844 (6) QB 682, as under ;
"It may be also possible to prove that an act of the public body, though performed in good faith and without the taint of corruption, was so clearly founded on alien and irrelevant grounds as to be outside the authority conferred upon the body, and, therefore, inoperative."
12. It is not necessary for the petitioners to establish that the power was misused with deliberate objective or oblique motive, or lacked bona fides of the authority concerned. It is enough to prove that the power of transfer was used for colourable, for irrelevant and extraneous purposes. The power was ostensibly used for transferring police officers, but in reality for some other purpose. It was thus, a colourable exercise of power. In State of Mysore v. P.R. Kulkarni, 1973 (3) SCC 597, a number of officiating wireless operators were reverted as police constables. They contended that the real object of reversion was to appoint a person junior to the petitioners. The High Court allowed the petition accepting the contention and also by holding that there was misconception that unless the petitioners were reverted, the number of wireless operators would exceed the number required in the new State of Bombay. Dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court observed : 'misuse of power' or 'misapplication of power' or a 'Detournement de-Luviour' (as it is called in French Administrative Law), are terms correctly employed to describe the use of power in this illegal fashion. It is not necessary for the respondents to go so far as to establish that such misuse took place with the deliberate object of benefiting others at the expense of the respondents.
13. Having realised the mistake, the State Government immediately adverted to damage control exercise and invited applications from the transferred police officers to be accommodated to their choice postings. If the transfers were made in bona fide exercise of power, in accordance with the transfer policy, as claimed by respondents, there was absolutely no occasion to invite and accept request from the transferred officers to exercise their choice for fresh postings after some of them had joined at the places of posting indicated in the impugned transfer orders. The Advocate General had meticulously tried to demonstrate on record that some of the police officers have been accommodated at the place indicated by them and some of them in their own districts. The State, however, has failed to show the reasons for which such undue favours were shown to the transferred police officers. The fact that some of the petitioners have sent applications directly to the police headquarters giving inclination to withdraw the writ petition and did not approach their counsel for withdrawing the writ petition, itself shows that police officers accepting the offers sought prize postings and benefited out of the damage control exercise. It is a matter of deep concern that the police administration in the State of U. P. not only maintains the record of the castes of police officers but also gives them posting on that basis. They may have been appointed on the reservation policy adopted by State Government, as an affirmative action to give benefit to under-privileged classes on economic criteria ; but having been so appointed, they cannot be posted, transferred, shifted and used in the force on the basis of their castes. Police officers owe their duties to the State, and cannot be used for the political or other purposes of the Government in power on the basis of their castes and posted at particular police stations. The present case clearly demonstrates this fact, which may cause serious consequence in demoralising the police force.
14. The Court refuses to take into account the statement of Advocate General, and the affidavits handed over in the office of counsel of petitioners, by some unknown person, purporting to withdraw writ petitions on behalf of petitioner Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13. These petitioners have not come forward to the Court and have not made a proper application in accordance with rules of court to withdraw their cause. Their counsel has not given any such statement to the Court that they seek to withdraw from the writ petition. The fact that some of the petitioners have joined at the place of their postings and that some opted for fresh postings of their choice on an offer given to them, also does not make their cause infructuous as such events do not make the exercise of powers by State Government bona fide.
15. For the aforesaid reasons, the Court finds that the transfer orders dated 10.8.2002, passed by the Deputy Inspector General (Establishment) U. P. Head Quarters, Allahabad, were made in colourable exercise of powers and as such, are illegal against the policy of transfer.
16. In the result, the writ petitions succeed and are allowed. The orders dated 10.8.2002 passed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Establishment), U.P., Allahabad, transferring petitioners from Bulandshahr to different zones in the State of U. P. and the orders dated 11.8.2002 issued by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bulandshahr, communicating those orders, are set aside. The respondents are directed to issue consequential orders without any delay. The costs are quantified at Rs. 5,000 in favour of petitioners.
Disclaimer: Above Judgment displayed here are taken straight from the court; Vakilsearch has no ownership interest in, reservation over, or other connection to them.

Bishan Pal Malik And Ors. vs State Of U.P. And Ors.


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

20 December, 2002
  • S Ambwani