O.A. No. 1158/2014. Case: Alok Kumar Verma Vs Union of India. Central Administrative Tribunal

Case NumberO.A. No. 1158/2014
CounselFor Appellant: Ajit Singh and For Respondents: V.S.R. Krishna, Shailendra Tiwary and Geetanjali Mohan
JudgesA.K. Bhardwaj, Member (J)
IssueAdministrative Tribunals Act, 1985 - Section 19
Judgement DateAugust 22, 2014
CourtCentral Administrative Tribunal

Order:

A.K. Bhardwaj, Member (J), (Principal Bench, New Delhi)

1. In the present Original Application filed under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the applicant has assailed the orders dated 31.12.2013 and 26.2.2014 whereby a decision has been taken to transfer him to Northeast Frontier Railway and his transfer to said Railway was directed with his posting as CBE. The applicant has raised as many as nine grounds to buttress the challenge to his transfer. Nevertheless, during the course of hearing, Mr. Ajit Singh, learned counsel for applicant confined the challenge to two grounds, viz. (i) mala fide of respondent No. 3 and (ii) bias of the respondents against him because the applicant pointed out deficiencies in the chlorination of the water by M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. On 13.5.2014, having heard Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned senior advocate for applicant, this Tribunal passed the following Order:

Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned senior counsel for applicant submitted that the transfer of the applicant is abased by the mala fide, as when vide his note dated 26.12.2013 he pointed out deficiency in the chlorination of the water and also infirmity in the services provided by M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. as also M/s. Deioners Speciality Chemicals (P) Ltd., the respondents issued the order of his transfer just after five days, i.e., on 31.12.2013. According to him, even the relieving of the applicant was also quite unusual as when he had left the office at around 7.00 PM on the previous day, i.e., 27.2.2014, the next morning Mr. Rajesh Agarwal, Chief Engineer (G) had assumed the charge of the post of Chief Engineer without taking charge from him formally.

Ms. Geetanjali Mohan, learned counsel for respondents submitted that she could receive the brief only today and need sometime to prepare her submissions.

In view of the submissions put forth by Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned senior counsel for applicant, the respondents are directed to produce the file pertaining to the orders of transfer and relieving of the applicant as also the file pertaining to his note dated 26.12.2013 whereby he pointed out deficiency in the quality of water chlorination, on the next date of hearing.

List on 22.5.2014 as part heard.

2. The arguments were further heard on 27.5.2014 and 8.8.2014. During the course of further hearing, Mr. Ajit Singh, learned counsel for applicant read out the supplementary written submissions dated 8.8.2014 and made reference to various annexures to the Original Application only to espouse that the transfer of the applicant is mala fide fallout of the infirmities pointed out by him in the services of the aforementioned contractor.

3. To highlight the concern of the applicant towards unsatisfactory bacteriological results of large number of samples collected and the quality of water being supplied at stations/colonies being far from satisfactory, learned counsel referred to his action plan for solving the problems, which are seriously compromising water supply in the Northern Railway (Annexure-D). In the said action plan, suggested by the applicant, there is no mention about the quality of service provided by M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. or M/s. Deioners Speciality Chemicals (Pvt.) Ltd. Besides, the proposal for transfer of the applicant was initiated on 31.10.2013 and the said action plan is dated 19.4.2012, thus it would be unrealistic to link the impugned transfer of the applicant with one and half years old action plan. Learned counsel also made reference to the issues raised by the applicant regarding:

Water safety plan to rehabilitate the prevailing unsafe drinking water supply over Northern Railway.

Contamination prone tube-wells on Northern Railway and emergent measures required to improve chlorination for safe drinking water.

Indication of presence of harmful/toxic chemical substances in water of bore-wells in Northern Railway,

Bacteriological examination of water samples for monitoring quality of drinking water at stations, colonies and other Railway premises.

He also made reference to Chapter 4 of Report No. 11 of 2013 (Railways) (Annexure-H) to highlight that as per extent instructions, Health Inspectors should check the presence of residual chlorine daily at various distribution points randomly and record of the same should be kept. They should also collect water samples for bacteriological examination periodically and send water samples for chemical examination once in six months. Learned counsel also referred to the Minutes of 6th meeting of Works Standards Committee (12th 13th September 2013) at Nainital, North Eastern Railway (Annexure-I) and the letter dated 7/10.6.2013 written by Mr. A.K. Harit, IRSE (Annexure-J) regarding quality of drinking water supply in the Divisions.

4. In sum and substance, the efforts of learned counsel had been to emphasize that the transfer of the applicant is result of his concern towards the contamination of the water supply to the consumers in the Northern Railway. In the supplementary written arguments, read out by the learned counsel, he has highlighted that:

The respondents acknowledged that the quality of water supply was very unsatisfactory and there was failure of the Divisions to deal with the situation.

The claim of the respondents that the Indian Standard Code on water quality does not apply to Railway is utterly mischievous as the medical department has accepted the suggestion of the applicant in this regard and issued revised instructions regarding monitoring of water quality to the Divisions to implement the changes.

The applicants had met respondent No. 3 personally on 17.2.2014 to apprise him with full activities of aforementioned two companies, still the respondents have not mentioned about it either in the counter affidavit or in the written submissions.

In their written arguments, the respondents have vehemently claimed that there were no irregularities in the award of contracts for supply of Programmable Logic Controller Based Automatic Bacteriological Plants to M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd.

The applicant had written to the Board on 9.1.2014 that its instructions dated 11.4.2013 to all the Railways to provide that the plants at all bore-wells deserve a re-look because the plants are unsuitable and too costly, and the instructions could result in massive undue benefit to the company because of the following reasons:

(a) The term Programmable Logic Controller Based Automatic Bacteriological Plants is a misleading nomenclature for a chlorination plant. It is actually the name given by M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. to the chlorination plant manufactured by his company.

(b) Firozpur Division had awarded all seven contractors to this company through tenders in which detailed technical specifications had been given which exactly matched with the technical specifications of this company's plants of the above nomenclature. Further, in the tender specifications it was also mentioned that the officer for any alternate system not asked for as per technical specification enclosed shall not be considered.

The Board has since withdrawn its letter No. 2013/CE-I/Innov./2(NBM) dated 7.3.2014, but for inexplicable reasons the Railway Board shies away from giving reasons for instruction being withdrawn, which are otherwise obvious.

The applicant had prepared a comprehensive policy regarding chlorination, which provided for doing away chlorination through contract and suggested generic specifications, which could have brought transparency and competitiveness in the procurement of the chlorination plants, which created fear of losing business for M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. or M/s. Deioners Speciality Chemicals (Pvt.) Ltd.

M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. or M/s. Deioners Speciality Chemicals (Pvt.) Ltd. actively colluded with the respondents in managing the transfer of the applicant.

5. On the other hand, Mr. V.S.R. Krishna, learned counsel for respondents submitted:

  1. The proposal to transfer the applicant was initiated on 30.10.2013 and admittedly till then he had not made any complaint against the aforementioned two contractors, i.e., M/s. Mercury (International) Pvt. Ltd. or M/s. Deioners Speciality Chemicals (Pvt.) Ltd.

  2. Respondent No. 3 against whom mala fide is alleged has no role to play in transfer of the applicant, as proposal for transfer was initiated in the Railway Board.

  3. Since the applicant could succeed in assailing the order dated 4.9.2009 passed by the Railway Board transferring him to South Eastern Central Railway by alleging mala fide against the Railway Board on the ground that the transfer was the handy work of respondent Nos. 2 to 4 who wanted to scuttle his viewpoint regarding the alignment of Katra-Qazigand section and contrived to ensure that the said viewpoint was not placed before the Minister of Railways, he has tried to concoct similar ground in the present case.

  4. After his transfer in the present case, the applicant has tried to build up somehow similar grounds to question his present transfer to Northeast Frontier Railway.

  5. Surprisingly when the applicant is kept posted within Delhi he raised no grievance but when he is shifted to a different Railway, instead of discharging his duty of carrying out the transfer and discharging the responsibility at the new place of posting, he raised the issue of vested interest of the officials.

  6. The applicant is the longest stayee Chief Engineer in the Northern Railway since 2004 while all other Chief Engineers have lesser stay than him.

  7. The proposal for transfer of the applicant was initiated as a regular process in the Railway Board with due consideration for cadre balancing of Senior Administrative Grade engineering officers of Northern Railway and the process of transfer was initiated on 30.10.2013.

  8. Monitoring, review and improvement of water supply, quality of water and provision...

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