Telangana HC quashes CAT order, sends CS Somesh Kumar to Andhra Pradesh

High Court refused Kumar three weeks he sought to approach Supreme Court

Hyderabad: Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar was on Tuesday reinstated to the Andhra Pradesh cadre, as the Telangana High Court quashed a 2015 order of the central administrative tribunal (CAT) that allowed Kumar to continue in the Telangana state cadre.

The High Court also refused to give Kumar the three weeks he sought to approach the Supreme Court. He is to be relieved from the Telangana cadre.

Following the bifurcation of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, Somesh Kumar was allotted to Andhra Pradesh by the Union department of personnel training (DoPT) in 2014. Aggrieved by it, Kumar approached the CAT in 2015. Faulting the allocation guidelines, the tribunal allowed him to continue in Telangana.

Challenging the order in the Telangana High Court in 2017, the DoPT asked how the tribunal could interfere in administrative issues like the allocation of IAS and IPS officer cadres, as the power is vested with the Union of India.

The case was pending since then and was taken up by the division bench headed by Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan in the second quarter of 2022. The arguments concluded on July 7, 2022, and the judgment was issued on Tuesday.

The division bench of Justice Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda allowed the DoPT petition and quashed the CAT order. In its 89-page order, the High Court held the CAT grossly erring by interfering with the DoPT’s allocation. The bench said that the tribunal had misconstrued the cadre allocation guidelines.

The court agreed with the Union government`s contentions that an All India Service officer is bound to serve in any part of India. An IAS officer cannot claim, as a matter of right, that he will serve in a particular state and has no vested right to serve in a particular state.

Kumar contended that his allocation to the AP cadre was illegal and arbitrary because the two representations he made to the Centre before cadre allocation, requesting his allotment to the Telangana state cadre, were not considered and his objection to the tentative allocations were not also considered and remained unresolved.

He submitted that he had not been given a chance to swap cadres because no officer of his batch in the unreserved quota was available in Telangana. Hence, he requested a swap with an officer of the next batch.

His main contention was that the then Chief Secretary of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Dr P.K. Mohanty, who was on the advisory committee for cadre allocation, had acted with malicious intent, to ensure that his daughter Swetha Mohanty (IAS 2011 batch) and son-in-law Rajpat K. Saini (IAS 2007) were allotted to Telangana.

Kumar challenged the guidelines framed by the Centre based on the recommendations made by the Dr Pratyush Sinha committee, stating that they were contrary to the statute governing the service conditions of AIS officers and ultra vires the Constitution.

The Chief Justice bench said that the CAT had taken the view that allowing options for swapping to one set of officials and denying the same to another set was an irrational classification. Further, the bench said the CAT was not justified in holding that the AIS officer allocation guidelines, on the undivided cadre of AP between the two successor states, was illegal, arbitrary and violative of the All India Services Act, 1951.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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