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M. Arvindakshan v/s Employees Provident Fund Organisation, New Delhi & Others

    Original Application No. 180/00752 of 2014

    Decided On, 29 October 2015

    At, Central Administrative Tribunal Ernakulam Bench


    For the Applicant: P. Ramakrishnan, Advocate. For the Respondents: N.N. Sugunapalan, Sr., S. Sujin, Advocates.

Judgment Text

U. Sararathchandran, Judicial Member.

1. Applicant is a Junior Hindi Translator working under the respondent Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). He was working under Respondent No.2. He has approached this Tribunal being aggrieved by Annexure A/1 order dt 3.9.14 transferring him from sub Regional Office, Kozhikode to Kannur office of the EPFO. He is further aggrieved by Annexure A/2 relieving order issued to him on the same day along with Annexure A/1. Applicant contents that Hindi Translators working in the EPFO were being entrusted with additional responsibilities in addition to their own duties. As this has affected the timely completion of official language work of the Hindi translators, the EPFO had issued Annexure A/4 circular to all Zonal Additional Central Provident Fund Commissioners directing them not to assign any responsibilities to the Hindi Translators other than their basic duties. Despite this applicant was assigned with duties as indicated in Annexure A/4, A/6 & A/7 burdening him with a huge quantum o

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f work including the work of Section Supervisor, Accounts Officer, etc. which are more clerical in nature. He made Annexure A/8 representation against this. Peeved by Annexure A/8 representation sent by him in this regard, respondent No.2, at the instance of Respondent No.3, issued Annexure A/1 transfer order transferring him from Kozhikode to Sub Regional Office of EPFO at Kannur. Applicant states that as he was under treatment for cancer at MIMS Hospital, Kozhikode since 2009 a transfer at this juncture would jeopardise his continuing treatment. He further states that he has school going children, eldest studying in the XII standard at KVS, Kozhikode. As his wife is employed in the Postal Department, she cannot accompany him to Kannur. Applicant contends that Annexure A/1 & A/2 are illegal, arbitrary and unsustainable and that the transfer is punitive in nature.

2. Respondents on the other hand point out that as per Annexure R1 policy decision taken by EPFO, Annexure A/4 decision has been superseded. Officers and officials in Official Language wing are therefore entrusted with some additional work which they could carry on without affecting their routine work so that the other works entrusted to the official language staff will promote implementation of official language as the entire work entrusted can be fully carried out in Hindi. According to respondents, the medical condition of applicant was never brought to the notice of the respondents. As the posting of the applicant is in a supervisory level, in the normal course, the work done by the clerical staff members are scrutinized by the supervisory officers. For the smooth functioning of the office all the officials are required to attend to any work assigned to them especially on certain circumstances where the target to be achieved is within a limited period. Respondents further state that due to the troublesome and adamant attitude of the applicant, most of the staff in the Sub Regional Office, Kozhikode are reluctant to participate in Hindi competitions and other volunteer activities. Applicant is not attending to Hindi implementation work and not attending to any work other than Hindi entrusted to him. Therefore Respondent No.2 with the powers vested on him transferred the applicant to SRO, Kannur where there is no official language staff. According to respondents, applicant was transferred to Kannur due to administrative exigencies. There is no personal interest or grudge towards the applicant. Respondents therefore pray for rejecting the OA.

3. A reply statement was filed by Respondent No. 3 also. He states that when applicant was assigned additional work vide Annexure A/6, he stopped performing the said work. Annexure A/7 order was issued directing him to work in Enforcement No.3 in addition to his present duties. All other supervisory officials except applicant perform the duties assigned to them. Instead of attending to the daily work required of him, applicant sent A/8 representation.

4. A rejoinder was filed by the applicant refuting the contentions of the respondents. He produced Annexure A/9 Office Order to indicate that he was allotted with heavy work deliberately than the other Hindi Translators working in the same office. He has also produced Annexure A/10 to indicate that when the Zonal Office of the State Bank of Travancore, Kozhikode requested Respondent No.3 to send the applicant in connection with the Hindi Day Celebrations his service was not spared informing that he cannot be sent during the working days.

5. Heard learned counsel for the applicant and Mr. S. Sujin, learned counsel appearing for respondents 1-3. It is settled law that the courts/Tribunals will not interfere with the orders of transfer unless it is done in violation of existing rules or is vitiated by mala fides. In the instant case respondents contend that applicant was transferred from Kozhikode to Kannur on administrative grounds especially in view of the circumstance that Kannur Office is not having Hindi Translators. Besides, respondents contend that applicant had been behaving in a recalcitrant manner sticking on to his argument that Hindi Translators need not do the work other than the work of Official Language. According to respondents, this was done only for the smooth functioning of the office.

6. Applicant relies on Annexure A/1 communication. It states that Hindi Translators shall not be burdened with other office work lest it should reduce their efficiency as Translators. However, respondents contend that the authorities took a subsequent policy decision that if the Hindi Translators are familiar with works in different sections of the office, gradually the entire work of the department can be performed in Hindi so that by working in different sections of the office the efficiency of Hindi Translators will be improved. Shri Sujin, learned counsel for the respondents referred to Union of India and others v. Janarddhan Debanath AIR 2004 SC 1632. In that case, the Apex Court considered the transfer of some officials in the Postal Department from Agartala to Meghalaya Division. The Union of India took the stand that the transfer was done in public interest and on account of exigencies of administration. In that case it was also pointed out that the respondent misbehaved with a senior Lady Officer and she was confined and dragged from one room to another with a view to force her to withdraw the charge-sheet. She was abused in filthy language and physically manhandled. It was in that context the aforesaid officials were transferred. The Apex Court in that case observed:

'. . . . . The manner, nature and extent of exercise to be undertaken by Courts/Tribunal in a case to adjudge whether it casts a stigma or constitutes one by way of punishment would also very much depend upon the consequences flowing from the order and as to whether it adversely affected any service conditions-status, service prospects financially and same yardstick, norms or standards cannot be applied to all category of cases. Transfers unless they involve any such adverse impact or visits the persons concerned with any penal consequences, are not required to be subjected to same type of scrutiny, approach and assessment as in the case of dismissal, discharge, reversion or termination and utmost latitude should be left with the department concerned to enforce discipline, decency and decorum in public service which are indisputably essential to maintain equality of public service and meet untoward administrative exigencies to ensure smooth functioning of the administration'.

The Apex Court further observed:

'. . . . . For the purposes of effecting a transfer the question of holding an enquiry to find out whether there was misbehaviour or conduct unbecoming of an employee is unnecessary and what is needed is the prima facie satisfaction of the authority concerned on the contemporary reports about the occurrence complained of and if the requirement, as submitted by learned counsel for the respondents, of holding an elaborate enquiry is to be insisted upon the very purpose of transferring an employee in public interest or exigencies of administration to enforce decorum and ensure probity would get frustrated. The question whether respondents could be transferred to a different division is a matter for the employer to consider depending upon the administrative necessities and the extent of solution for the problems faced by the administration. It is not for this court to direct one way or the other.'

7. In the instant case, the respondents state that the applicant was not co-operative in the matter of the work entrusted to him in the other sections of the office, which according to respondents is necessary for the smooth functioning of the office. They further state that it was on account of the defiant attitude of the applicant in performing the duties assigned, applicant was issued Annexure A/7 order. According to respondents, there was no mention of this health condition in any of the representations or any such request was made by him for giving accommodation to him on the ground of his health.

8. This Tribunal has perused the medical records produced by the applicant. Annexure A/3 medical record shows that the cancer on the tongue was treated in 2009 and that after treatment further examination revealed that the disease has become 'negative'. As per Annexure A/3 he was directed to appear for review. According to applicant he is regularly visiting the MIMS hospital, Kozhikkode for the periodical review. It appears that applicant is not presently troubled by the disease of cancer and that he needs only a periodical review of his case. Kozhikode and Kannur are not very far off places. It takes only less than 3 hours to undertake travel between these towns. Visiting Kozhikode for periodical clinical review does not appear to be a big burden for the applicant as highlighted by him in this OA. Though the applicant has mentioned that his daughter is studying in 12th Standard, no records were produced. No serious arguments were made on that ground either. His wife is reported to be working in the Postal Department.

9. Taking stock of the facts and circumstances in this case, this Tribunal is not inclined to interfere with the impugned order of transfer. Accordingly, OA is dismissed. No order as to costs.