The Allahabad High Court recently overturned an order transferring a Central Bank of India employee from one location to another, citing the fact that his wife is a chronically impaired person with a 100% disability.
Generally, the employees, Bank employees, and state or central government employees will not be able to deny the transfer orders. Earlier, a division bench of the Supreme Court had ruled that the government employee’s transfer or non-transfer is a decision to be made by the employer and the employee has no choice in the matter.
The bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan remarked that because the husband (employee) is her wife's carer [as specified under Section 2 (d) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016], he is exempt from routine/ rotational transfer under the bank's policy.
Essentially, the Central Bank of India decided in April 2022 to transfer 163 of its personnel in various Zones from one location to another. The current petitioner [a bank Scale-II officer] was one of the bank's employees who was transferred.
He challenged his transfer order on the grounds that he is a 'caregiver' for his wife, who is permanently disabled, and that he could not have been transferred as part of the routine under the Bank's policy of Transfer of Mainstream/ Specialized Officer in Scale-I, II, and III, as well as the DOPT's memorandum issued in October 2018.
In this regard, his counsel contended that as a caretaker for his wife, who is permanently disabled, he should be granted the benefit of his own Bank policy, item No.1.2, which exempts any employee move, whether routine or rotational, from such transfer.
In light of these arguments, the Court made the following initial observations:
"Since the wife of the petitioner is a permanent disable person having 100% disability and to look after and take care of her is a sole responsibility of the petitioner, then his status shall come within the meaning of term 'caregiver' as defined under Section 2 (d) of the Act, 2016. On account of the disability of the wife of the petitioner, she is a person with the 'benchmark disability' and a 'person with a disability as per the meaning of Section 2 (r) & (s) of the Act, 2016. If the Competent Authority of the Bank has transferred the petitioner in compliance of the Transfer Policy/ Guidelines which provides that whosoever has completed 10 years of service at one place shall be transferred from one zone to another zone, then the same policy also clearly indicates vide para 1.2 that a transfer/ posting of a spouse etc. of a person with 'benchmark disability or long term disability, shall be exempted from routine/ rotational transfer in terms of DOPT Guidelines dated 08.10.2018."
The Court also stated that rotational transfers are intended for people who are not protected by any compassionate or beneficial policies; however, if an employee is protected by a compassionate or beneficial policy, that policy cannot be ignored unless there is an administrative reason to transfer that person from one zone to another.
As a result, the Court quashed the order transferring him from Lucknow to Cooch Behar, Kolkata; however, because someone has applied in his place, the Court ordered the opposing parties to accommodate the petitioner in any suitable location within the Lucknow Region, be it in rural or urban areas, as the authorities see fit.