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R.K. Bhatnagar Vs. Union of India (Uoi) and Divisional Manager Western Railway - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 646/1981
Judge
Reported in1982WLN721
AppellantR.K. Bhatnagar
RespondentUnion of India (Uoi) and Divisional Manager Western Railway
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredLaxman Singh v. Union of India (supra
Excerpt:
railway establishment manual - para 311--transfer--authorities competent to transfer a railway servant from one railway to another railway--held, transfer from one division to another division cannot be challenged;under the relevant rules a power has been conferred on the competent authority to transfer a railway servant within the railway as well as from one railway to another railway. the transfer of the petitioners from one division to another division of the western railway cannot, therefore, be challenged on the ground that it would effect their seniority in the other division and also effect their future chance of promotion in the other division to which they are transferred;(b) constitution of india - article 226--conduct of petitioner-station master transferred from one division..........of railway boycotting control is like father or mother killing ones child in womb.3. ''boycott' of railway control phones and consequential putting railway moving engines out of control, exposes lacs of innocent citizens to risk of limb & life by accidents whether tantamounts to boycotting 'safety' & encouraging railway engine 'homicides' by dereliction of duty 'suicide' ?4. railway controllers putting railway out of control, is it not a contradiction and paradox 5. are such citizens, guilty of such dangerous conduct, unequitable and extra ordinary method of exposing lacs of passengers to life hazard, disentitled from invoking equitable and extraordinary jurisdiction would article 226 also exhibit reluctance to such boycott of human safety and serious disruption of essential services.....
Judgment:

Guman Mal Lodha, J.

1. Taking passengers to death' by removing 'control' and yet the petitioner's insistence for invoking 'Article 226'.

2. A controller of Railway boycotting control is like father or mother killing ones child in womb.

3. ''Boycott' of Railway control phones and consequential putting railway moving engines out of control, exposes lacs of innocent citizens to risk of limb & life by accidents whether tantamounts to boycotting 'Safety' & encouraging Railway engine 'homicides' by dereliction of duty 'suicide' ?

4. Railway Controllers putting railway out of control, is it not a contradiction and paradox

5. Are such citizens, guilty of such dangerous conduct, unequitable and extra ordinary method of exposing lacs of passengers to life hazard, disentitled from invoking equitable and extraordinary jurisdiction Would Article 226 also exhibit reluctance to such boycott of human safety and serious disruption of essential services These questions incidentally arise in this 'boycott and transfer 'litigation.'

6. All the above five petitioners (Schedule A) are Station Masters in Railway. They claim to be office bearers of the All India Station Masters Association. It would be convenient to mention, in details, the facts of one of the first case of R. K. Bhatnagar who joined service as Asstt. Station Master in the year 1952. He was promoted as Station Master in 1965 and was posted at Gegal Akhari in Jaipur Division. R.K. Bhatnagar, the petitioner, claims that he is Zonal Vice President of All India Station Masters' Association in Jaipur. Association submitted a charter of demands and, notice under Section 22(1) of the Industrial Disputes Act in the year 1980. On 10th April, 1981, the petitioners and others boycotted control phone for 24 hours.

7. On 13th April, 1981 the petitioner-RK Bhatnagar was transferred to Bhavnagar Division and on 15th April, 1981, the transfer order was served on the petitioner.

8. In similar circumstances, other petitioners have also been transferred and all of them have challenged the transfer orders All the petitioners have taken the following principal grounds in their writ petition:

1/ Seniority of petitioner is maintained division-wise. There is no provision of transfer outside the division and the petitioner will loose seniority in case he is transferred to another division and as the chances of promotion of the petitioner will be affected, the transfer is violative of article 14 of the Constitution of India.

2/ The petitioner has a right to be considered in his own division for promotion to higher posts and by this transfer, he will be deprived of his right of consideration in his division.

3/ All the persons working in Grade Rs. 425-640 boycotted the control telephone but only the petitioner has been picked up for the arbitrary treatment of transfer and this act is a clear act of victimisation.

4/ There are no administrative exigencies on reason for the transfer of the petitioner and this transfer has been effected simply to wreck vengeance against the officer bearers of the Association. The transfer is a discriminatory one to victimise the trade Union activities of the petitioner. No action can be taken against the petitioner in view of Section 37 of the Industrial Disputes Act.

9. From the reply of the Railway, the above contentions have been controverted in the following manner. The contentions raised by the petitioner stands concluded by series of decisions of this Court, This Court has held that seniority of an employee to other division is fixed on the basis of the length of service and an employee cannot have any grievance on account of transfer to other division. This Court has further held that the transfer from one division to another cannot be challenged on the ground that it would affect their seniority in order division and also affect their future chances of promotion in other division to which they are transferred. There is clear provision of para 311 contained in Indian Railway Establishment Manual which deals with such transfers. Reliance is placed upon the decisions in civil writ petition No. 1023/81 Laxman Singh v. Union of India decided on 30th June, 1981 at Jaipur, Mohammed Latif v. State of Jammu & Kashmir 1970 SLR 412 J & K, Mathura Prasad Yadav v. Inspector General Rly. Prosecution 1974 (2) SLR 165 and Mohanlal v. State of Rajasthan 1980 (2) SLR 616.

10. The relevant observations in Laxmansingh v. Union of India are as under:

The second contention urged by Shri Sharma was that seniority of T. T. E. in the Western Railway is maintained on divisional basis and that the transfer of the petitioners from Jaipur Division to other divisions would prejudicially affect their seniority as well as their future chances of promotion and that the impugned orders are liable to be quashed for that reason. In my view the aforesaid contention of Shri Sharma cannot be accepted. In the first place there is nothing in the writ petitions to show that as a result of the transfer from Jaipur Division to other divisions the petitioners would be prejudicially affected in the matter of fixation of their seniority so as to affect their future chances of promotions. More over, seniority of the petitioner on transfer to the other divisions will be fixed on the basis of the length of service and the petitioners cannot make a grievance. It cannot be said that merely because there are separate seniority lists for T.T.E. for each division T T.E. belonging to one division cannot be transferred to another division.

11. My attention was also drawn to the observations made in Mohammed Latif's case (supra) which read as under:

A transfer from one department to another department is not open to challenge on the ground that the said transfer would affect the seniority in the other department and affect his chances of promotion because a mere chance of promotion is not a condition of service and if a person on being transferred goes down a few steps as to loose promotion, it cannot be said that his conditions of service have been altered to his prejudice.

12. Similarly, in Mathura Prasad v. Inspector General Rly Prosecution (supra), a Division Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has observed that the transfer from Central Railway to Western Railway, even if it effects the seniority or chances of promotion of the Railway servant, would not invalidate the transfer which is made in the exercise of the power conferred by the Act and the Rules/Regulations made there-under.

13. In Mohanlal v. State of Rajasthan (supra) this Court has rejected a similar contention where a transfer has been made from one Municipal Board to another Municipal Board, In the present case, it cannot be disputed that under the relevant Rules a power has been conferred on the competent authority to transfer a railway servant within the railway or to another railway. The transfer of the petitioners from one division to another division of the Western Railway cannot, therefore be challenged on the ground that it would effect their seniority in the other division and also effect future chances of promotion in the other division to which they are transferred.

14. Controverting the second contention, it has been averred that as the petitioner stands transferred to another division, he will have his right of promotion on the basis of length of service in the grade and has got no right to be considered in the division where from he has been transferred, only after the transfer.

15. In reply to the third contention, it was argued that in exactly identical circumstances one Shri R.N. Sharma was transferred from Western Railway to Northern Railway. Shri R.N. Sharma was also an office bearer of the Association and this Court in Civil Writ No. 980/81 R.N. Sharma v. Union of India and Ors. decided on 31st March, 1982, has held that such a transfer is perfectly valid. The learned Counsel for the respondent submitted that the contention of the petitioner regarding arbitrary action and victimisation, therefore, stands concluded by the aforesaid decision of this Court.

16. So far as the fourth contention of the petitioner is concerned it has been denied that the transfer has been effected to wrench vengence against the petitioner for his trade union activities. It is open to the petitioner to carry on the trade union activities but he has no right of disrupting the public utility services like that of Railways by boycotting the duty legally imposed upon him. The respondent would be failing in their duty if they do not take remedical administrative steps to ensure safe and punctual running of the trains. In the garb of the alleged trade union activities, the petitioner has no right to disrupt the essential services. The gravity of situation cannot be minimised by stating that no untoward incident happened due to boycott of the control telephone, certainly petitioner cannot take the credit for this.. No action has been taken against the petitioner to attract Section 37.

17. I would have dealt with individual grounds raised by the petitioners and decided separately, but in view of the judgment of this Court in Laxman Singh v. Union of India (supra), it is not necessary to have an exercise of repetition.

18. On a careful consideration of the entire matter, I am of the opinion that the decision for this Court in Laxmansingh's case squarely covers the present controversy.

19. Shri G.S. Singhvi, the learned Advocate for the petitioners, confronted with the above settled position of law, so far as this Court is concerned, submitted that the above referred judgment of this Court is under appeal before the Division Bench and special appeal has been admitted and therefore, these cases should be referred to Division Bench. I am not inclined to accept this prayer of Shri Singhvi. It is obvious that by boycotting the control telephone system of the Railway, these Station Masters risked the life of lacs of travelling public and exposed them to serious hazards of Railway, accidents. It is well known that the Railway, accidents take toll of several innocent passangers. The petitioners could have resorted to other methods of protest and agitation for pressing their demands. The boycott of control phones of Railway and consequential disruption of essential public utility services threatens the security of lacs of innocent citizens and may have encourged threatening even the security of the State.

20. Though, the Railway has not justified the transfers on these grounds and I should not be misunderstood to reflect the writ petition of the learned Counsel for the petitioners only on the above ground, but this Court can certainly take notice of the admitted conduct which is most derogatory, while exercising discretionary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

21. Even with effective control system of railways the one Railway Minister's tenure witnessed killing of several, if not thousands, in 97 accidents out of which three were announced by him in the Parliament on August 17, 1981. What would be the disasterous consequences of boycott of control by controllers, is voice-choking, tragic, pathetic, hair-raising, society rocking disasterous and dangerous phenomenon to be imagined.

23. It is well established law that the conduct of the petitioner in writ petition is very relevant. The above conduct of the petitioners is an additional reason for disentitling them from remedy under equitable and extra-ordinary and discretionary jurisdiction of Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

23. The result is that these writ petitions therefore, fail and are hereby dismissed without any order as to costs.


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