There Should Be A Security Of Tenure In Case Of Presiding Officer/Member Of ICC: Delhi High Court

Staying the transfer of a Commandant at Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Delhi High Court last week observed that the principles which apply to security of tenure of Judges and Presiding Officers of various quasi-judicial tribunals, also apply to Members/Presiding Officers of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

The Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Amit Bansal further observed that when an officer, by virtue of a post, is also a Presiding Officer or Member of the ICC, ordinarily there should be security of tenure.

The matter in brief

A Commandant, CRPF, Dwarka, who was also appointed as the Presiding Officer of the Sector Level Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of Northern Sector in connection with sexual harassment of women at workplace was transferred from Dwarka (Delhi) to Greater Noida (NCR/UP) prior to the period of three years.

Contending that the said transfer was malafide and motivated, it was argued that since the petitioner had returned findings not only against the person against whom a particular sexual harassment complaint was made but also against another Senior Officer (DIG), the real reason for the transfer was to remove the petitioner as the Presiding Officer of ICC.

To this, the Court importantly observed thus:

If one of the considerations for transfer was the factum of the petitioner in her report of the ICC having named the DIG, then the matter certainly requires consideration.”

Court’s observations

Prima facie, the Court observed that the Presiding Officers and Members of ICC, are also ‘Judges’ within the meaning of Section 19 of the IPC and thus, they should have the security of tenure.

Responding to the argument of the respondent-CRPF that for administrative exigencies, officers/personnel can always be transferred even prior to three years, significantly, the Court remarked:

Undoubtedly, so. However, once the personnel/officer by the virtue of a post also occupies the position as aforesaid, the administrative exigencies, in our view, have to be weighed vis-à-vis the consideration of the need for security of tenure, inasmuch as, else there would always be apprehension that on returning unfavorable findings, the sword of transfer would be brought down.”

Lastly, issuing notice to CRPF, the Court directed it take a decision on the petitioner’s representation, in the light of Court’s observations, within one week, and communicate it to the petitioner.

With this, the Court stayed the transfer order and listed the matter for further hearing on August 25.

Case title – Neeraj Bala v. Union of India and others

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