No removal of govt staff without strong reasons: SC

Employee on deputation cant stake claim to new post

A government employee appointed on a post on deputation after the due selection procedure cannot be removed without assigning strong reasons, the Supreme Court said.

However, the apex court added, an employee appointed to a post on a deputation following transfer cannot claim his/her right to the new position. A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya, said that there was a difference between ‘transfer on deputation’ and ‘appointment on deputation’.

The court made the ruling while setting aside the judgment of the Gujarat High Court as well as an order withdrawing the appointment of Dr Ashok Kumar Ratilal Patel from the post of director AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), a statutory body, regulating management and engineering education in the country.

The bench said that if an employee is transferred on deputation against equivalent post from one cadre to another, one department to another, one organisation to another, or one government to another, in such a situation, “the person has no legal right in the post as no recruitment in its true import and significance takes place as the person continues to be a member of the parent service”.

However, this principle would not be applied in case of appointment on deputation.
“A person, who applies for appointment on deputation has indefeasible right to be treated fairly and equally, and once such person is selected and offered with the letter of appointment on deputation, the same cannot be cancelled except on the ground of non-suitability or unsatisfactory work,” the apex court held.

Allowing the appeal of Dr Patel, the bench directed the authorities to clear his appointment for a period of one year to the post of a director in AICTE, which remained vacant since May 9 last year following the court order.

The offer of appointment on deputation to Dr Patel, who was working as the director of North Gujarat University, was withdrawn on March 11, 2010 on the ground that he was getting higher salary on his current position, so he could not be deputed against a lower scale of pay being offered to the post of the director in AICTE. The post in New Delhi was offered on February 15, 2010 to Dr Patel after due procedure. He accepted the offer by sending a letter on February 20.

The AICTE, instead, issued fresh advertisement for the post, forcing him to approach the Gujarat High Court, which, in turn, dismissed his plea on the ground that he had no right to claim entitlement to the post of a director and cannot compel the authorities to take him on deputation.

Holding that Dr Patel had the right to join the post, the apex court said, “We are constraint to state that the high court failed to appreciate the difference between ‘transfer on deputation’ and ‘appointment on deputation’ and erred in holding that the appellant has no right to claim entitlement to the post of a director.”

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