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The Supreme Court has held that a court cannot examine the integrity and service records of an employee while examining a transfer order passed by an employer.

A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and R M Lodha, while dismissing the appeal of one sub-registrar, who was under transfer from Ghaziabad to Hapur, noted that it is the exclusive prerogative of the state government or Inspector General of Registration to decide his place of posting.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Lodha in the 9-page judgment pulled up the Allahabad High Court and noted, ‘We are pained to observe that the High Court seriously erred in deciding as to whether respondent no 5 was a competent person to be posted at Ghaziabad VI as the sub-registrar.’ ‘That exercise undertaken by the High Court did not fall within its domain and was rather uncalled for,’ added Justice Lodha.

‘We are unable to approve the direction issued to the state government and IG of Registration to transfer a competent officer at Ghaziabad VI as sub-registrar after holding that respondent no 5 (Rajendra Singh) cannot be said to be an officer having a better conduct and integrity in comparison to the petitioner (Karvendra Singh) justifying his posting at Ghaziabad VI,’ he said.

‘The High Court entered into an arena which did not belong to it and thereby commited a serious error of law. The only question required to be seen was whether transfer of respondent no 5 was actuated with mala fides or otherwise in violation of statutory rules,’ he observed.

‘The transfer of respondent no 5 was not found to suffer from any of these vices. The High Court went into the competence and suitability of respondent no 5 for such posting.

‘It is here that the High Court fell into a grave error. The impugned order of the High Court cast stigma in the service of respondent no 5 which may also add prejudicial to his interest in the pending appeal against the adverse remarks,’ he stated.

The controversy arose when Rajendra Singh was transferred on July 31, 2007 from Hapur to Ghaziabad as sub-registrar and the petitioner Karvendra Singh was shifted to Hapur II as sub-registrar.

The High Court, while upholding the transfer of Karvendra Singh, quashed the transfer of Rajendra Singh on the ground that the officer was a man of doubtful integrity as vigilance inquiry was ordered against him and he also had an adverse entry in his service record which was made in 2005.

The plea of Rajendra Singh that he has been a given clean chit by the vigilance department and his appeal against adverse entry is pending disposal.

The plea of Karvendra Singh that he had been transferred within a month of his posting on the basis of complaint of one Radhey Lal, Sanyojak Dalit Morcha Sangharsh Samiti, Lucknow and transfer order was arbitrary, stigmatic and suffered from non-application of mind.

The apex court in its judgment also noted that ‘a government servant has no vested rights to remain posted at a place of his choice, nor can he insist that he must be posted at one place or the other.

‘He is liable to be transferred in the administrative exigencies from one place to the other. No government can function if the government servant once appointed or posted at a particular place or position, continues in such place or position as long as he desires.

‘It is for the state government or IG of Registration to decide about his place of posting.’ ‘As to at what place respondent no 5 should be posted is an exclusive prerogative of the state government,’ Justice Lodha stated.

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