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Supreme Court of India
Bank Of India vs Jagjit Singh Mehta on 22 November, 1991
Equivalent citations: 1992 AIR 519, 1991 SCR Supl. (2) 492
Author: J S Verma
Bench: Verma, Jagdish Saran (J)
           PETITIONER:
BANK OF INDIA

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
JAGJIT SINGH MEHTA

DATE OF JUDGMENT22/11/1991

BENCH:
VERMA, JAGDISH SARAN (J)
BENCH:
VERMA, JAGDISH SARAN (J)
SHARMA, L.M. (J)
AGRAWAL, S.C. (J)

CITATION:
 1992 AIR  519		  1991 SCR  Supl. (2) 492
 1992 SCC  (1) 306	  JT 1991 (4)	460
 1991 SCALE  (2)1108


ACT:
Service Law:
Bank of India (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979:
    Regulation	47,  Notice dated  28.3.1988--Transfer--Bank
Officer--Whether can claim transfer to a particular place on
the ground of spouse's employment.
    Government	of  India Memorandum  dated  3.2.1986,	Para
4(vi): Banking Companies (Acquisition of Transfer of  Under-
takings) Act, 1970:
    Bank of India (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979--All
India	Service-Posting	  of  husband  and   wife   at	 one
station--Guidelines--Nature
of



HEADNOTE:
    Regulation	47 of the Bank of India (Officers')  Service
Regulations, 1979 provided that every officer was liable for
transfer to any office or branch of the Bank of India or  to
any place in India.
    The	 respondent was posted as a clerk in  the  appellant
Bank  at  Chandigarh. At the time of his  promotion  to	 the
Junior Management Grade Scale-1, he gave an undertaking	 for
posting	 anywhere in India, and was consequently  posted  as
Branch Officer in the State of Bihar. Thereafter, he filed a
writ  petition	in the High Court claiming his	transfer  to
Chandigarh Zone on the ground of his wife being employed  at
Chandigarh.  The writ petition was allowed. The	 Bank  filed
appeal by special leave to this Court.
    It was contended on behalf of the respondent that para 4
(vi) of Memorandum dated 3.4.1986 of the Government of India
contained guidelines for posting of husband and wife at	 one
station	 which	were meant to be followed also	by  all	 the
Public Sector Undertakings, and, according to the provisions
of the Banking Compa-
493
nies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act 1970 and
the Bank of India (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979 made
thereunder, the bank was bound to follow the guidelines	 and
directions issued by the Central Government.
Allowing the appeal of the Bank, this Court,
    HELD:   1.	Although  the  guidelines  require  the	 two
spouses to be posted at one place as far as practicable	 the
desirability  of such a course being obvious-yet  that	does
not enable any spouse to claim such a posting as of right if
the  departmental authorities do not consider  it  feasible;
nor does it mean that their place of posting should invaria-
bly be one of their choice even though their preference	 may
be  taken into account while making the decision in  accord-
ance with the administrative needs. The only thing  required
is  that  the departmental authorities should  consider	 the
feasibility of a suitable posting along with the  exigencies
of administration and enable the two spouses to live togeth-
er at one station if it is possible without any detriment to
the  administrative needs and the claim of other  employees.
[pp 495 E; 496 BC]
    2.	After accepting a promotion or any appointment in an
All  india  Service, subordinating the need  of	 the  couple
living	together  at one station, they cannot  as  of  right
claim to be relieved of the ordinary incidents of the  serv-
ice  and avoid transfer to a different place on	 the  ground
that  the  spouses  thereby would  be  posted  at  different
places.	 While choosing the career and a particular  service
the couple have to bear in mind this factor and be  prepared
to  face  such a hardship particularly when they  belong  to
different  services. They have to make their choice  at	 the
threshhold between career prospects and family life. [pp 495
F-H; 496 A]
    3.1 In the instant case, the respondent voluntarily gave
an  undertaking	 that he was prepared to be  posted  at	 any
place in India and on that basis got promotion and  thereaf-
ter  sought to be relieved of that necessary incident of  an
All India Service on the ground that his wife had to  remain
at Chandigarh. [p. 496 AB]
    3.2	 In the face of Regulation 47 of the Bank  of  India
(Officers')  Service  Regulations, 1979 according  to  which
every officer is liable for transfer to any office or branch
of the Bank of India or to any place in India and the  clear
provision  for	such transfer in the policy  read  with	 the
notice	dated March 28, 1988, the High Court's order  cannot
be sustained. [p. 495 BC]
494
    The	 High  Court  was in error in  overlooking  all	 the
relevant aspect as well as the absence of any legal right in
the  respondent	 to claim the relief which it granted  as  a
matter of course. [p. 496 CD]



JUDGMENT:

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 4541 of 1991.

From the Judgment and Order dated 6.8.1991 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in C.W.P. No. 2415 of 1991. Dr. Anand Prakash, Mrs. Veena Birbal and Raj Birbal for the Appellants.

D.R. Sehgal, S.K. Bagga and Mrs. S.K. Bagga for the Respond- ents.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by VERMA, J. The respondent, Jagjit Singh Mehta, is em- ployed at present in the Bank of India as an officer in Junior Management Grade Scale-1 and posted in a Branch Office of the Bank in District Giridih in the State of Bihar. The respondent was earlier employed in the clerical cadre of the Bank and was posted at Chandigarh. According to the policy contained in Annexure-B read with notice dated March 28, 1988 (Annexure-C), on promotion from the clerical cadre to the Officers' Grade, the respondent had to indicate his preparedness for posting anywhere in India according to the availability of vacancies. The respondent readily indi- cated his preparedness to be posted anywhere in India by Annexure-D dated April 19, 1988 when the respondent was posted as a Clerk at Chandigarh prior to his promotion as an Officer.

After getting the promotion as an officer and being posted in Bihar on the above basis, the petitioner filed Civil Writ Petition No. 2415 of 1991 in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana for a direction to the Bank to transfer him from the Bihar Zone to the Chandigarh Zone on the ground that his wife is employed as a Senior Accountant at Chandi- garh. The writ petition has been allowed by a Division Bench (M.R Agnihotri & D.S.Mehra, JJ,) of the High Court by a cryptic order dated 6.8.1991 which reads as under :-

"After hearing the learned counsel for the parties, we allow this petition and direct the respondents by issuing a writ of mandamus commanding the Bank of India to transfer the peti-
495
tioner and post him somewhere near Chandigarh as his wife is posted as a Clerk in the office of the Advocate General, Punjab, Chandigarh. This shall be done within a period of two months. No costs."

The petitioner-Bank of India is aggrieved by the above order of the High Court. Special leave is granted. In the face of Regulation 47 of the Bank of India (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979 according to which every officer is liable for transfer to any office or branch of the Bank of India or to any place in India and the clear provision for such a transfer in the policy (Annexure-B) read with notice dated March 28, 1988 (Annexure-C), it is difficult to sustain the High Court's order. However, learned counsel for the respondent placed reliance on para 4

(vi) of a Memorandum dated April 3, 1986 (AnnexureH) of the Government of India containing guidelines for posting of husband and wife at one station which are meant to be fol- lowed also by all the Public Sector Undertakings. Learned counsel urged that according to the statutory provisions contained in the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970 and the Bank of India (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979 made thereunder, the Bank is bound to follow the guidelines and directions issued by the Cen- tral Government in this behalf.

There can be no doubt that ordinarily and as far as practicable the husband and wife who are both employed should be posted at the same station even if their employers be different. The desirability of such a course is obvious. However, this does not mean that their place of posting should invariably be one of their choice, even though their preference may be taken into account while making the deci- sion in accordance with the administrative needs. In the case of All-India Services, the hardship resulting from the two being posted at different stations may be unavoidable at times particularly when they belong to different services and one of them cannot be transferred to the place of the other's posting. While choosing the career and a particular service, the couple have to bear in mind this factor and be prepared to face such a hardship if the administrative needs and transfer policy do not permit the posting of both at one place without sacrifice of the requirements of the adminis- tration and needs of other employees. In such a case the couple have to make their choice at the threshold between career prospects and family life. After giving preference to the career prospects by accepting such a promotion or any appointment in an All-India Service with the incident of transfer to any place in India, subordinating the need of the couple living together at one 496 station, they cannot as of right claim to be relieved of the ordinary incidents of All-India Service and avoid transfer to a different place on the ground that the spouses thereby would be posted at different places. In addition, in the present case, the respondent voluntarily gave an undertaking that he was. prepared to be posted at any place in India and on that basis got promotion from the clerical cadre to the Officers' grade and thereafter he seeks to be relieved of that necessary incident of All-India Service on the ground that his wife has to remain at Chandigarh. No doubt the guidelines require the two spouses to be posted at one place as far as practicable, but that does not enable any spouse to claim such a posting as of right if the departmental authorities do not consider it feasible. The only thing required is that the departmental authorities should consid- er this aspect along with the exigencies of administration and enable the two spouses to live together at one station if it is possible without any detriment to the administra- tive needs and the claim of other employees. The High Court was in error in overlooking all the relevant aspects as well as the absence of any legal fight in the respondent to claim the relief which the High Court has granted as a matter of course. The High Court's order must, therefore, be set aside.

Consequently, the appeal is allowed, the impugned order of the High Court is set aside and the respondent's writ petition is dismissed. No costs.

k.P.						      Appeal
allowed.
497