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P Roy Burman v. Debalaya Bhattacharjee (2020) - Transfer of Constable when Her Husband Criticized Govt Hospital

Bobby Choudhary ,
  07 November 2020       Share Bookmark

Court :
Tripura High Court
Brief :
Court was of the view that it was undoubtedly true that a Government servant holding transferable post and who has transfer liability across the State cannot lightly claim about such transfer.
Citation :

FACTS OF THE CASE:

  • A petition was filed by a woman constable challenging the order of her transfer dated 15th September, 2020 by which she was transferred from her present place of posting of Procurement Division in West Tripura, Agartala, to join the establishment of Superintendent of Police, Gomati.
  • She alleged that this transfer was done by the administration with Mala fide intention.
  • Her main ground was that on 13th September, 2020, her husband (an advocate) was admitted as a COVID patient into a Government Hospital who criticised the facilities of the hospital and as a punishment she was being transferred from her present working place.
  • She also specified that she is a sports person and represents Tripura Police in National Events. According to her generally sportsperson and athletes are kept all the time in Agartala, which was another aspect to establish the Mala fides.

HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT RESPOND?

Government Advocate Mr. Debalaya Bhattacharjee, opposed the petition contending this was her first transfer and as a person holding a transferable post, she had a liability to serve anywhere in the State.

RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH:

Right to freedom of speech is mentioned under Article 19 of Fundamental Rights in Constitution of India.

The right is available only to Indian citizens and not to foreign nationals.

The right allows a citizen to express ones’ and opinions at any issue through any medium.

However, the right is not absolute and is subject to certain reasonable restrictions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, public order etc.

COURT’S OBSERVATION:

Court was of the view that it was undoubtedly true that a Government servant holding transferable post and who has transfer liability across the State cannot lightly claim about such transfer.

But observing the facts of the case the Court recorded that the order of transfer was passed in close proximity to the statement of the husband of the petitioner criticizing the Government facilities being published in the newspaper.

The Court read the original transfer file, and noted that it contained no paper, no proposal, no background of the transfer of the petitioner earlier than 15th September,2020.

The Bench of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi remarked,”The close proximity between the publication of the statement of the husband of the petitioner criticising Government hospital facilities and the order of transfer of the petitioner would persuade me to stay the same till the final disposal of the petition”

The Tripura High Court observed that the right of freedom of speech and expression would include the freedom of being critical of the public administration or authority.

The order of transfer has been stayed and the petition has been admitted and fixed for a final hearing on 18th December, 2020.

What do you think about the order of the Court? Let us know in the comments section below!

 
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