HC quashes CAT’s order allocating IAS officer Somesh Kumar to Telangana, declines to keep verdict in abeyance

CAT had grossly erred in interfering with the allocation of Somesh Kumar to A.P. State, says bench

January 10, 2023 07:13 pm | Updated 07:13 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar | Photo Credit: file photo

Observing that ‘no officer has a vested right to claim allotment to a particular cadre’, Telangana High Court on Tuesday quashed Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)-Hyderabad’s order allocating Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to Telangana State cadre.

A bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda also turned down the request of Mr. Kumar’s counsel to keep in abeyance the verdict for three weeks facilitating his client to avail his legal remedy. “Having considered the matter in detail and pronounced the judgement, we are not inclined to stay the same,” the bench said in its verdict.

The bench delivered judgement in a writ petition filed by Union government’s Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) challenging an order issued in 2016 by the CAT-Hyderabad declaring the allocation of Mr. Somesh Kumar to AP State cadre as illegal and arbitrary. The CAT also instructed Telangana State to treat Mr. Kumar as Telangana cadre officer.

Challenging this CAT order, the DoPT moved HC in 2017. Pronouncing the verdict, the division bench headed by CJ Ujjal Bhuyan said the “CAT had grossly erred in interfering with the allocation of Mr. Somesh Kumar to AP State”. The CAT’s further direction that Mr. Somesh Kumar should be treated as Telangana cadre officer with all consequential benefits “is wholly without jurisdiction”.

The Tribunal could not have issued such order since the Central government was the cadre controlling authority. The Tribunal examined the IAS officer’s allotment to AP cadre like it was “an appellate authority substituting its views for that of the Central government which is not permissible in law,” the bench said.

Referring to the CAT placing its reliance on Supreme Court decision in S. Ramanathan vs Union of India case allocating the officer to Telangana cadre, the two judges said in the order that the apex court rendered that order “in a completely different factual context”. The same could not have been extended to the present case, they said.

The bench said factually and legally June 1, 2014 (the date of retirement of Mr. P.K. Mohanty, who was member of advisory committee formulating guidelines for re-allocation of officers) would have to be treated as a non-working day. CAT fell in error treating it as a working day. The CAT’s order that Mr. Mohanty’s name should have been in the list of officers for re-allocation on this basis and his non-inclusion vitiated the list was incorrect, the judgement said.

Somesh Kumar issue Timeline

March 28, 2014: Centre constituted Advisory Committee headed by IAS officer S. Pratyush Sinha to recommend IAS, IPS, IFS officers borne on undivided A.P. State for allocation to successor States of A.P., Telangana.

May 30, 2014: Centre issues guidelines for allocation of All India Service officers to AP, Telangana. Provisional list also prepared. Somesh Kumar allotted to A.P. cadre.

August 26, 2014: Somesh Kumar represents to Committee to change his cadre to Telangana.

August 28, 2014: Representation to swap him with Rajat Bhargava allotted to Telangana.

October 10, 2014: List of officers allocation published. Somesh Kumar with A.P. cadre.

Somesh Kumar moves CAT-Hyderabad by filing Original Application.

October 30, 2014: CAT issues interim order to continue him in Telangana.

March 5, 2015: Committee issues revised allocation order retaining Somesh Kumar with A.P. cadre.

March 29, 2016: CAT quashes Committee order allocating him to A.P., directs Telangana State to treat him as Telangana cadre officer.

February 10, 2017: DoPT files writ petition in HC challenging CAT order.

Issues based on which CAT allocated Somesh Kumar to Telangana

*Are Pratyush Sinha committee guidelines legal?

*Did inclusion of P.K. Mohanty as Advisory Committee member vitiate its decisions because his daughters Swetha Mohanty and Rajat K. Saini (his daughter, son-in-law respectively)?

*Whether list of officers borne on cadre of undivided A.P. prepared on June 1, 2014 for distribution to Telangana, A.P. legal for not including P.K. Mohanty name who retired same day?

*Whether retirement day of Mr. Mohanty (June 1, 2014) is non-working day?

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