1. Appellants 2 and 3, are members of the All India Bank of Baroda Officers Federation (Appellant No.1). They are aggrieved by transfers effected by the Bank of Baroda (Respondent No.1) on 2/3 July, 1999. The transfer were impugned in CW No. 3990/99 and CW No. 3989/99, but the challenge was rejected, resulting in the present Letters Patent Appeal.
2. The Bank of Baroda effects transfers of its employees on the basis of Regulation 47 of the Bank of Baroda (Officers) Service Regulations, 1979. This reads as under:
"Every officer is liable for transfer to any office or branch of the bank or to any place in India."
3. Pursuant to this power of transfer, the Bank of Baroda framed a general policy for transfer of its employees. This is reproduced on page 67 of the appeal paper book and reads as under:-
"In Bank of Baroda officers are transferred normally:
1) On Promotion
2) Under Job Rotation
3) For providing Rural/Semi-urban branch experience as required under Regulation 17 of the Bank of Baroda (Officers) Service Regulations.
1. ON PROMOTION Officers are transferred on promotion from surplus to deficit zones. Such transfers necessitated for bringing about a balance of staff in all zones are done pursuant to completion of promotion exercise depending upon the requirements of each zone. In the transfer exercise of officers from surplus to deficit zones, officers are identified on the basis of merit list of the promotion exercise by following the descending order of merit. In such transfers, exemptions are given to the following:
i) Officers who were transferred out of the zone/state in the past and who have completed three years of service on such transfers.
ii) Officers in the age group of 55 years and above. Transfers of such officers who are not to be transferred from surplus to deficit zones are decided depending upon the needs of the zone and the suitability of officers.
2. UNDER JOB ROTATION In terms of the guidelines issued by the Government, officers have to be rotated from one office/branch to another office/branch on completion of 3 years period at an office/branch. These guidelines have been implemented by the Bank and Job rotation of Officers is done accordingly.
3. RURAL/SEMI URBAN POSTING UNDER REGULATION 17 In terms of eligibility criteria laid down by the Govt. for promotions to scales II & III an Officer is required to put in 2/3 years service in a Rural/Semi - Urban branch. This criteria has come into effect for all promotions from 1.6.1988. In order to enable officers to fulfill eligibility criteria, officers are required to be transferred to Rural/Semi-urban branches.
Exemption from Rural/Semi-urban posting is being given to specialist officers, officers posted in EDP Cells/ Abroad and physically handicapped officers etc. in terms of the directives received from the Govt.
The above transfer policy is applicable to officers in Junior Management Grade/Scale I, Middle Management Grade/Scale II and Middle Management Grade/ Scale III. As regards officers in Senior Management Grade/Scale IV and above, postings are decided by the Bank by taking into account administrative needs and suitability. It may be pertinent to mention that in terms of Regulation 47 of Bank of Baroda (Officers') Service Regulations, 1979, every officer is liable for transfer to any office or branch of the Bank or to any place in India."
4. It appears that the transfer order dated 2/3 July 1999 affected about 900 employees of the Bank of Baroda. Only 4 employees objected to the transfer. Of these, 2 have since taken voluntary retirement and so the present appeal ventilates the grievance of only 2 transferees.
5. The objection to the transfer is not on the grounds of mala fides or arbitrariness, but on the ground of its application without any rational basis.
6. It is difficult to appreciate how and why out of 900 employees, the Bank of Baroda should choose only two of them for transfer without any rational basis. Be that as it may, the contention having been realised, has to be dealt with.
7. There is no doubt about the fact that the Appellants are employed in a job which may require them to be transferred out of their place of work. By and large, such transfers should be made in accordance with the policy or the guidelines mentioned above. The Bank of Baroda does, nevertheless, have an omnibus power to transfer its employees as predicted by Regulation 47 of the Bank of Baroda (Officers) Service Regulations, 1979. It is this omnibus power that has been invoked in the present case, and there does not seem to be any valid reason why the Bank of Baroda resort to the use of this power.
8. It was contended by learned counsel for the Appellants that his clients are prepared to forego their promotion provided they are not transferred out of their place of work. While this may be so, it can hardly change the legal position. Moreover, the Bank of Baroda cannot be bound down by the views of the employees whose services are transferable. An employee working in Delhi or Mumbai may not want to be transferred out during his career - he may desire to forego all promotions due to him. This does not, and cannot mean that his replacement must remain outside Delhi or Mumbai throughout his career, only because a Delhi or Mumbai based employee does not want to be transferred out.
9. Taking all these facts into consideration, we have no option but to dismiss the appeal and uphold the view of the learned Single Judge that the transfer order dated 2/3 July, 1999 is not arbitrary, nor is the transfer policy irrational in any manner whatsoever.
10. The appeal is, accordingly, dismissed.