On 24th December, 2021, in the case of Shantanu Mandal v. Union of India, the Central Administrative Tribunal (“CAT”) held that the transfer order made against the Appellant on the basis of the IC recommendations was made to maintain the administrative work environment and decorum at the hospital.
- Dr. Shantanu Mandal (‘Appellant”) was working as an Ear, Nose and Throat (“ENT”) specialist in the Central Government Health Scheme (“CGHS”) Wing of the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi and was even appointed as the head of the department in 2017.
- In the year 2020, a female colleague filed a complaint of sexual harassment against him, following which an inquiry was conducted and the Internal Complaints Committee (“IC”) submitted its report, absolving the Appellant of all the charges.
- Some of the suggestions given by the IC included a verbal warning, separating the unit of the female doctors from that of the Appellant and supervising all his interactions with female colleagues. Aggrieved with these suggestions, the Appellant made a representation against them.
- Thereafter, an order was passed for his transfer to the CGHS branch in Nagpur. Aggrieved by this action, the Appellant protested against it and was directed to make a representation to the authorities. His representation was rejected and he was relieved from duty. Hence, he filed an application to quash these orders of transfer, rejection and termination.
Submissions– The Respondents submitted that the order of transfer was issued in administrative and public interest and filing this application was pointless since the Appellant had already joined the CGHS branch at Nagpur. Also, the Appellant had served in Delhi for more than six years and being an employee of the central government, he cannot refuse a transfer order and make a demand for retention at the same place. Also, no malafide on part of the authorities was established by him. The recommendations given to govern the interaction of a senior doctor with his female colleagues reveal a lot about his character and the level of his objectionable behavior with female colleagues.
Observations of the Court– It has been held in a plethora of cases by the Hon’ble Supreme Court including the recent judgment of Namrata Verma v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2017) that transfer orders are part and parcel of government posts where exigency of service and efficiency of administration are to be awarded paramount consideration. In the present case, it was clear that the transfer was for the sake of administrative and public interest on the basis of the IC recommendations. There was no illegality found in the transfer order.
Final Decision– The CAT dismissed the application challenging the transfer order of the Appellant by maintaining that this decision was made on the basis of public interest and administrative efficiency.
Rhea Bazaz, Final Year Student, Symbiosis Law School, Pune & Shagnik Bhattacherjee, Legal and Compliance – POSH at Work