Supreme Court says it should not interfere in postings, particularly in Indian Armed Forces

The apex court was hearing an appeal by an Army Colonel against a 15 May order seeking the transfer of his wife and him to far-off locations

Press Trust of India November 17, 2020 11:36:28 IST
Supreme Court says it should not interfere in postings, particularly in Indian Armed Forces

File image of Supreme Court of India. Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said it should not interfere in postings, particularly in the armed forces, as somebody has to go and serve in places like Ladakh, certain areas of north-east and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The apex court stated this while hearing an appeal filed by an Army Colonel against the Delhi High Court order which had asked him and his wife, who is also a Colonel in the Army, to move to their newly assigned posts within 15 days.

The petitioner, who is an officer in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department, had moved the high court challenging the 15 May posting order and alleged that the decision to transfer him and his wife to far off locations has been taken as he had filed a statutory complaint against the JAG and others.

He had challenged his posting to Andaman and Nicobar Islands from Jodhpur in Rajasthan and contended that his wife was being posted to Bathinda in Punjab.

During the hearing in the apex court on Monday, the counsel appearing for the petitioner told a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that distance between Bhatinda to Andaman and Nicobar Islands is over 3,500 km.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the petitioner, said that both the officers have a four-and-half-year-old child and they have taken charge at their respective places.

Kumar told the bench that the petitioner has to apply for voluntary retirement because of this transfer. “If the Armed forces say they are opposed to joint posting in Delhi, it may be harsh but somebody has to go to Andaman and Nicobar also,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

“In matters of posting of Army officers, we should not interfere. In places like Ladakh, North-East and Andaman, somebody has to go,” the Bench observed, adding, “In postings, particularly in Armed forces, we should not interfere”.

“These are very hard cases. It is very difficult for us to say that reconsider this,” the bench said.

After the top court observed that it is not inclined to interfere, Kumar said he would withdraw the plea.

“Ranjit Kumar, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, seeks the permission of the court to withdraw the Special Leave Petition so as to enable the petitioner to pursue independent proceedings in regard to his request for withdrawing the application for voluntary retirement,” the bench noted in its order.

“In terms of the above request, the Special Leave Petition is dismissed as withdrawn leaving it open to the petitioner to pursue available remedies,” it said.

The high court, while dealing with the petition, had said that the Army has given reasons in its order rejecting the officer’s request/representation for a spouse coordinated posting and no ground of mala fide or violation of any rule has been made out for the court to interfere in the matter.

The Army had informed the high court that the two senior officers can only be posted together in New Delhi, but it cannot be done as the JAG department has 23 Colonels only as against the authorised strength of 40 and static headquarters (HQs) like New Delhi are at lower priority than field formations when postings are being considered.

It had said that posting the couple at New Delhi "will be at the cost of maintaining voids at formation HQs, which is not in organisational interest".

In its reply before the high court, the Army had also said that since the couple's marriage in 2008, they have been given three spouse coordinated postings on their requests and "all out efforts were made to post both of them in the same station".

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