The High Court of Uttarakhand has directed the state government to allow on April 4, senior IFS officer Rajiv Bhartari to take over as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest/Head of Forest Force, who was allegedly transferred merely on the basis of a note prepared by the Minister of Forest.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Alok Kumar Verma, while passing the directions on Monday, observed that even after the petitioner was transferred and respondent No. 4 (the current PCCF) was brought-in as PCCF/HoFF, the matter was not placed before the CSB for post facto approval.
The High Court noted that merely because the Minister concerned was one of the members of CSB itself did not authorise him to unilaterally take a decision to transfer the petitioner in the manner that he did.
The High Court further divesting the respondent no. 4 of his duties as the PCCF/HoFF.
As per the complaint, the 1986 batch IFS officer was promoted to the post of PCCF/ HoFF and took charge on January 1, 2021. By an order dated November 25, 2021, he was transferred to the post of Chairman, Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board, which is normally occupied by a Joint Secretary Level Officer.
Bhartari challenged the transfer order before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which directed the state government to reinstate him as PCCF/HoFF on February 24, 2023.
While quashing the transfer order, the Tribunal observed that there was nothing on record to show that the applicant’s career had blemishes or that any charge sheet had been served upon him at the time of impugned transfer order.
Even if the applicant was not performing his duty well on the post of PCCF (HOFF), then also at least the procedure prescribed for transfer should have been followed, it added.
The Counsel appearing for the petitioner before the High Court submitted that even after the Tribunal order, the respondents did not comply with the directions.
The lawyer further contended that the petitioner was due to retire on April 30 this year and it was essential for him and his reputation that he was restored to the position as PCCF/HoFF forthwith without any unnecessary delay.
The Advocate further said that the transfer was ordered before the minimum prescribed tenure of two years by violating the Rule 2(a)(3) of IFS (Cadre) Amendment Rules, 2014.
The transfer was made without getting the recommendation of the Civil Services Board (CSB) by violating Rule 2(a)(5) of the IFS (Cadre) Amendment Rules, 2014, he added.