Asks government to send them back to posts held by them prior to transfer
In an interim order that could affect the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) powers to give directions to transfer IAS officers in the run-up to elections, the Bangalore Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Friday stayed the Government Order transferring eight deputy commissioners based on directions issued by the ECI for conduct of free and fair elections to the Assembly.
While staying the Government Order of March 27, 2013, the CAT also asked the government to immediately restore the officers to the posts held by them prior to March 27.
V. Srirama Reddy, B. Krishnaiah, F.R. Jaamdar, N. Prakash, Ramegowda, Jayaram, S.N. Nagaraju and G.C. Prakash had questioned their “premature” transfer as deputy commissioners of Ramanagaram, Mandya, Yadgir, Dakshina Kannada, Mysore, Belgaum, Raichur, and Bangalore Urban districts respectively. All these officers were promoted to the IAS from the State cadre.
The officers had contended that their transfer for the reason of conducting “free and fair elections” attached a stigma to their career even though there was no complaint against them, and they had recently conducted elections to the urban local bodies as returning officers. They had also contended that their transfers were made in violation of the provisions of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules.
Violation of rules
In his order, CAT member (Judicial) G. Shanthappa prima facie found force in the contention of the applicant officers that the transfers were made in violation of the rules.
The State government and the ECI had contended that the ECI had all powers to give directions for transfer under Article 324 of the Constitution (vesting powers of superintendence, direction and control for conducting elections with ECI) and the officers had no right to challenge such transfer orders. The State had also clarified to the CAT that these officers would be transferred back to the posts held by them prior to March 27 soon after the elections, though this aspect has not been indicated in the transfer orders.
However, the CAT said that though Article 324 vests certain powers in the ECI, it did not mean that they should not follow the statutory rules while transferring officials.