M.S. Ramachandra Rao, J.
1. The 1st petitioner was working as a Lecturer in Commerce in Government Degree College, Madhira, Khammam District. He had been initially appointed as a Lecturer on 07.08.1992 and had retired on 30.04.2018.
2. The 2nd petitioner is working as a Lecturer in Commerce in SGA Government Degree College, Yellamanchili, Visakhapatnam District.
3. While the 1st petitioner belongs to Srikakulam District which now falls in the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh, the 2nd petitioner belongs to Hyderabad District in the new State of Telangana which is carved out after 02.06.2014.
4. After bifurcation of the composite State of Andhra Pradesh into the new State of Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh with effect from 02.06.2014 by the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014, both the State Governments issued Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017 for the purpose of providing inter-State transfers.
5. A Committee was constituted to evolve a policy on inter-State transfers of the State Government employees in respect of the following categories:
A. Inter-State transfer of spouses.
B. Mutual transfer of local cadre employees i.e., District/Zonal/Multi Zonal cadre employees, and
C. Mutual transfer of all State Cadre Employees where the final allocation has been notified by the Central Government.
6. One of the guidelines issued pursuant to the Committee’s recommendations was as under:
“(a) Government employee seeking inter-State transfer has to apply to the Head of Department concerned through the property channel within a month from the date of the issue of these guidelines. Application shall be in the prescribed form appended. The Administrative Department concerned shall process all the applications and issue orders as per the prescribed procedure laid down herein preferably within two months from the date of issue of these guidelines.”
7. The petitioners in this Writ Petition submitted applications for mutual transfer on 28.08.2017 and 29.08.2017 within one month from the date of issue of the Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017.
8. Though their applications were complete in all respects, no orders were passed by the respondents, i.e., the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh within the two month period stipulated in the above Circular Memo.
9. The petitioners contend that they had come to know that the State of Andhra Pradesh had given a ‘No Objection’ in respect of the 2nd petitioner and the applications were pending before the State of Telangana for passing orders in the matter; that both are in the same cadre and in the same subject; and they would like to go to their native States as per the Memo dt.07.08.2017.
10. It is not in dispute that nothing was done by the 1st respondent within the 2 month period stipulated in the above Memo resulting in the 1st petitioner retiring from service on 30.04.2018.
11. The petitioners then filed W.P.No.15328 of 2018.
12. A Division Bench of this Court on 18.06.2018 passed the following order:
“While the age of retirement of a Government Lecturer in the State of Telangana is 58 years, it is 60 years in the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is not in dispute that the second petitioner is aged 48 years and, even if she is transferred to the State of Telangana, she would still have a decade of service left before her retirement. While the first petitioner may no longer be entitled to work as a Lecturer in the State of Telangana, as he has completed 58 years of age, he would be entitled, if his request for mutual transfer to the State of Andhra Pradesh is accepted, to work as a Government Lecturer till he attains the age of superannuation of 60 years in the State of Andhra Pradesh. A decision in this regard is required to be taken by the Special Chief Secretary, Education Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Suffice it to direct him to consider the request for mutual transfer with utmost expedition and, in any event, not later than one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, as the transfer guidelines, issued on 7.8.2017, require a decision to be taken within two months thereafter ie, on or before 7.10.2017.”
13. This order only directed the 4th respondent therein, i.e., the Government of Andhra Pradesh, but a direction was not given to the State of Telangana also to do the needful in the matter.
14. Therefore, the petitioners filed a Review Application to review the said order dt.18.06.2018 in W.P.No.15328 of 2018.
15. On 18.09.2018, the Division Bench disposed of the Review Petition modifying its earlier order as under:
“The order under review is modified and the last few lines of the said order which reads thus:-
“a decision in this regard is required to be taken by the Special Chief Secretary, Education Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Suffice it to direct him to consider the request for mutual transfer with utmost expedition and, in any event, not later than one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, as the transfer guidelines, issued on 7.8.2017, require a decision to be taken within two months thereafter i.e., on or before 7-1-2017”.
Shall stand substituted and shall now read as
“a decision in this required to be taken by the Governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Suffice it to direct the Special Chief Secretary /Principal Secretary of Education Department in both the States to consider the request for mutual transfer with utmost expedition and in any event, not later than one month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, as the transfer guidelines, issued on 07.08.2017, require a decision to be taken within two months thereafter i.e. on or before 07.10.2017”.
16. Thus, a direction was given to both the States to consider the request of the mutual transfer with utmost expedition.
17. Subsequently, the State of Telangana issued a letter No.4605/CE/A1/2017 dt.12.09.2018 addressed to the Special Chief Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department, Andhra Pradesh rejecting the claim of the 1st petitioner stating that he had already retired from service and his case cannot be considered at that stage.
18. This Letter No.4605/CE/A1/2017 dt.12.09.2018 issued by the State of Telangana is being challenged in this Writ Petition on the ground that it is illegal, arbitrary, unjust, unreasonable and contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution of India and to set aside the same in so far as it relates to rejection of the claim of mutual transfer of the 1st petitioner to the State of Andhra Pradesh on the ground that the 1st petitioner retired from service on attaining the age of superannuation on 31.05.2018. Relief of setting aside the Memo No.EHEO1- CCEOMISC/87/2019-CE dt.03.04.2019 issued by the Principal Secretary, Higher Education Department, Amaravathi of the Government of Andhra Pradesh was also sought. The petitioners further sought a direction to the respondents to effect inter-State mutual transfers of the petitioners to the State of Andhra Pradesh and to the State of Telangana respectively pursuant to their applications dt.28.08.2017 and 29.08.2017 in terms of the Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017.
19. It is contended by the petitioners that the High Court in its order dt.18.06.2018 in W.P.No.15328 of 2018 had made reference with regard to the 1st petitioner’s retirement, and since the age of retirement in the State of Andhra Pradesh was enhanced to 60 years, it had directed both the State Governments to consider the claim of the 1st petitioner for mutual transfer and it is alleged that the 1st respondent, i.e., the State of Telangana mechanically rejected the claim of the 1st petitioner ignoring the said order.
20. It is contended that basing on the said letter dt.12.09.2018, the 2nd respondent had issued Memo dt.03.04.2019 rejecting the proposal for inter-State transfer since ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the Government of Telangana is mandatory for effecting inter-State transfer on mutual basis.
21. It is stated that though the petitioners filed C.C.No.132 of 2019, the said Contempt Case was dismissed granting liberty to the petitioners to assail the Letter No.4605/CE/A1/2017 dt.12.09.2018 issued by the State of Telangana to the State of Andhra Pradesh by way of a separate proceeding.
22. The petitioners allege that the Letter No.4605/CE/A1/2017 dt.12.09.2018 was never communicated to the petitioners and a copy of the said letter was handed over to the counsel for the petitioners on 14.10.2019 during the course of hearing of the Contempt Case which was dismissed on 14.10.2019.
23. The petitioners contend that the 1st petitioner would have six months of service if he had been transferred to the State of Andhra Pradesh on the date of filing of W.P.No.23515 of 2019 and the action of the State of Telangana in rejecting his claim is unjustified and without any basis.
24. The State of Telangana, which is the 1st respondent in the Writ Petition, filed counter-affidavit. In the said counter-affidavit, it is stated that the 1st petitioner did submit his application on 28.08.2017 seeking mutual transfer to the Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Telangana State, Hyderabad; that the latter had forwarded the said request along with those of other Lecturers (45 in number) through letter dt.29.11.2017 to the Government of Telangana; that the Government of Telangana issued a Memo on 07.12.2017 requesting the Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Telangana State to submit proposals for inter-State transfers duly signed by the Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Andhra Pradesh and Principal Secretary / Special Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh; and thereafter the Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Telangana submitted proposals through letter dt.20.03.2018 in respect of 45 Lecturers including the petitioners for inter-State transfer on mutual basis to the Government of Telangana.
25. It is stated that the State of Telangana addressed a letter on 12.09.2018 to the State of Andhra Pradesh calling for ‘No Objection’ in respect of 40 Lecturers out of 45 Lecturers for inter-State transfers on mutual basis by deleting the 1st petitioner’s name on the ground that he retired from service on 31.05.2018.
26. It is contended that while the entire file was under examination of both the Governments as per check lists, the 1st petitioner had attained superannuation on 31.05.2018.
27. Why the State of Telangana took such a long time from 28.08.2017 till 12.09.2018 to consider the case of the 1st petitioner for inter-State mutual transfer when the 1st petitioner’s application in that regard was made on 28.08.2017 within the two months time prescribed in the Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017 is not explained by the 1st respondent.
28. When both the State Governments had issued Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017 promising to look into the applications for mutual transfer within two months from issuance of the guidelines if the application for inter-State transfer was made within one month from the date of issuance of the guidelines, it was the duty of both the Governments to process the 1st petitioner’s request for mutual transfer with the 2nd petitioner within the said period of two months, when the 2nd petitioner’s request was also within the stipulated time of one month from 07.08.2017 i.e., on 29.08.2017 itself.
29. It is shocking that the 1st respondent has not bothered to do anything in spite of the order dt.18.06.2018 in W.P.No.15328 of 2018, as modified on 18.09.2018, particularly when the service record of the 1st petitioner, who was then working in Khammam District in the new State of Telangana, was admittedly available with the 1st respondent as well as the 5th respondent, and it is not the case of the 1st respondent that there was any defect in the 1st petitioner’s application warranting making of further enquiries to verify any aspect mentioned in the said application.
30. The Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Telangana, Hyderabad forwarded the 1st petitioner’s application to the Government of Telangana on 29.11.2017, three months after the application of the 1st petitioner was filed with him; and when the Government of Telangana directed the Commissioner of Collegiate Education on 07.12.2017 to submit proposals including that of the 1st petitioners, the Commissioner submitted the said proposals on 20th March, 2018 after a further period of three months. Thus at every stage there was inexplicable delay by the 1st respondent and the 5th respondent.
31. It may be that the proposals dealt with 45 Lecturers including that of the 1st petitioner, but keeping in view the fact that the 1st petitioner was retiring on 31.05.2018, the 1st respondent as well as the 5th respondent ought to have acted more speedily in the light of the order passed by this Court in W.P.No.15328 of 2018.
32. It was not open to the 1st respondent to reject the 1st petitioner’s request for inter-State transfer after the 1st petitioner attained the age of superannuation on 31.05.2018 by passing the impugned order dt.12.09.2018.
33. In fact, the order dt.12.09.2018 does not appear to have been even communicated to the 1st petitioner and it is not denied that a copy of the same was furnished to the counsel for the 1st petitioner at the time when C.C.No.132 of 2019 was dismissed on 14.10.2019 refusing to punish the respondents for contempt of the order dt.18.06.2018 in W.P.No.15328 of 2018. This conduct on the part of the respondents 1 and 5 is arbitrary and unreasonable.
34. Admittedly, as per the counter-affidavit of the State of Andhra Pradesh (2nd respondent in the Writ Petition), on receipt of the proposals from the Special Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Andhra Pradesh, Government of Andhra Pradesh vide letter dt.11.04.2018, it had requested the Higher Education Department of Government of Telangana to furnish ‘No Objection Certificate’ for examining the proposal for effecting the inter-State transfers of the Degree College Lecturers including the petitioners herein.
35. The 1st respondent, Government of Telangana, kept quiet in spite of a reminder addressed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh vide Memo dt.20.07.2018 to the Special Chief Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department, Government of Telangana to issue such ‘No Objection Certificate’ to the mutual transfer of the petitioners.
36. The failure of the Government of Telangana to issue an NOC for the mutual transfer of the 1st petitioner to the 2nd respondent within the two month period from 28.08.2017, the date when the 1st petitioner made his application, or even thereafter prior to 1st petitioner’s retirement, in our considered opinion, is clearly arbitrary, illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and it appears that the 1st respondent deliberately wanted to sabotage the process of inter-State mutual transfers agreed between both the States in the Circular Memo dt.07.08.2017 for reasons best known to it.
37. In UrbanImprovement Trust, Bikaner v. Mohan Lal (2010) 1 SCC 512), the Supreme Court has criticized the attitude of Government officials in deliberately delaying taking crucial decisions affecting citizens and then contesting the same on technical pleas without justification. It declared:
“5. … … Statutory authorities exist to discharge statutory functions in public interest. They should be responsible litigants. They cannot raise frivolous and unjust objections, nor act in a callous and high-handed manner. They can not behave like some private litigants with profiteering motives. Nor can they resort to unjust enrichment. They are expected to show remorse or regret when their officers act negligently or in an overbearing manner. When glaring wrong acts by their officers are brought to their notice, for which there is no explanation or excuse, the least that is expected is restitution/restoration to the extent possible with appropriate compensation. Their harsh attitude in regard to genuine grievances of the public and their indulgence in unwarranted litigation requires to be corrected.
6. This Court has repeatedly expressed the view that Governments and statutory authorities should be model or ideal litigants and should not put forth false, frivolous, vexatious, technical (but unjust) contentions to obstruct the path of justice. We may refer to some of the decisions in this behalf.
7. In Dilbagh Rai Jarry v. Union of India (1974) 3 SCC 554) this Court extracted with approval the following statement [from an earlier decision of the Kerala High Court (P.P. Abubacker case (AIR 1972 KERALA 103):
“25. … ‘5. … The State, under our Constitution, undertakes economic activities in a vast and widening public sector and inevitably gets involved in disputes with private individuals. But it must be remembered that the State is no ordinary party trying to win a case against one of its own citizens by hook or by crook; for the State’s interest is to meet honest claims, vindicate a substantial defence and never to score a technical point or overreach a weaker party to avoid a just liability or secure an unfair advantage, simply because legal devices provide such an opportunity. The State is a virtuous litigant and looks with unconcern on immoral forensic successes so that if on the merits the case is weak, Government shows a willingness to settle the dispute regardless of prestige and other lesser motivations which move private parties to fight in court. The layout on litigation costs and executive time by the State and its agencies is so staggering these days because of the large amount of litigation in which it is involved that a positive and wholesome policy of cutting back on the volume of law suits by the twin methods of not being tempted into forensic showdowns where a reasonable adjustment is feasible and ever offering to extinguish a pending proceeding on just terms, giving the legal mentors of Government some initiative and authority in this behalf. I am not indulging in any judicial homily but only echoing the dynamic national policy on State litigation evolved at a Conference of Law Ministers of India way back in 1957.’”
8. In Madras Port Trust v. Hymanshu International (1979 (4) SCC 176) this Court held: (SCC p. 177, para 2)
“2. … It is high time that Governments and public authorities adopt the practice of not relying upon technical pleas for the purpose of defeating legitimate claims of citizens and do what is fair and just to the citizens. Of course, if a Government or a public authority takes up a technical plea, the Court has to decide it and if the plea is well founded, it has to be upheld by the court, but what we feel is that such a plea should not ordinarily be taken up by a Government or a public authority, unless of course the claim is not well founded and by reason of delay in filing it, the evidence for the purpose of resisting such a claim has become unavailable.”
9. In a three-Judge Bench judgment of Bhag Singh v. UT of Chandigarh (1985 (3) SCC 737) this Court held: (SCC p. 741, para 3)
“3. … The State Government must do what is fair and just to the citizen and should not, as far as possible, except in cases where tax or revenue is received or recovered without protest or where the State Government would otherwise be irretrievably be prejudiced, take up a technical plea to defeat the legitimate and just claim of the citizen.”
10. Unwarranted litigation by Governments and statutory authorities basically stems from the two general baseless assumptions by their officers. They are:
(i) All claims against the Government/statutory authorities should be viewed as illegal and should be resisted and fought up to the highest court of the land.
(ii) If taking a decision on an issu
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e could be avoided, then it is prudent not to decide the issue and let the aggrieved party approach the court and secure a decision. The reluctance to take decisions, or tendency to challenge all orders against them, is not the policy of Governments or statutory authorities, but is attributable to some officers who are responsible for taking decisions and/or officers in charge of litigation. Their reluctance arises from an instinctive tendency to protect themselves against any future accusations of wrong decision-making, or worse, of improper motives for any decision-making. Unless their insecurity and fear is addressed, officers will continue to pass on the responsibility of decision-making to courts and tribunals.” (emphasis supplied). 38. These observations aptly get attracted to the instant case. 39.Grave injustice has been caused to the petitioners because the 1st petitioner was disabled from securing two extra years of service in the Government of Andhra Pradesh and had to retire on 31.05.2018 while the 2nd petitioner who hails from Hyderabad was disabled from securing employment in the State of Telangana at Hyderabad as well. 40. Accordingly, the Writ Petition is allowed; Letter No.4605/CE/A1/2017 dt.12.09.2018 issued by the 1st respondent as well as Memo No.EHEO1-CCEOMISC/87/2019-CE dt.03.04.2019 issued by the 2nd respondent are both set aside; a Writ of Mandamus is issued to the 1st respondent to forthwith pass an order granting ‘No Objection Certificate’ for the employment of the 1st petitioner in the State of Andhra Pradesh and the 2nd respondent shall then forthwith provide him posting in one of the Government Degree Colleges in the State of Andhra Pradesh in an existing vacancy; a Writ of Mandamus shall also be issued to the 2nd respondent to forthwith relieve the 2nd petitioner by giving a ‘No Objection Certificate’ and the 2nd petitioner shall then be accommodated as a Lecturer in one of the Government Degree Colleges in the State of Telangana in an existing vacancy forthwith; the 1st respondent shall also pay costs of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees ten thousand only) to each of the petitioners. 41. Pending miscellaneous petitions, if any, shall stand closed.