The Union Department for Personnel and Training (DoPT) on Tuesday, January 10, relieved Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar from the state government, hours after the Telangana High Court quashed the IAS officer's allotment to the state cadre. The relieving orders will come into force with immediate effect. Somesh Kumar has been directed to join the Andhra Pradesh government latest by January 12.
The Telangana High Court on Tuesday quashed the order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Hyderabad Bench, staying the allotment of senior IAS officer Somesh Kumar to Andhra Pradesh cadre. A bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda, which had earlier reserved its verdict in July 2022 after the Union government challenged the CAT order allowing Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to continue in Telangana, on Tuesday set aside and quashed the tribunal's order.
"Upon thorough consideration of all aspects of the matter, we have no hesitation in holding that CAT had grossly erred in interfering with the allocation of the first respondent (Somesh Kumar) to the State of Andhra Pradesh. Consequently, judgment and order dated March 29, 2016, passed by CAT, being clearly unsustainable in law and on facts, is hereby set aside and quashed," the bench said in its order. Somesh Kumar's counsel prayed for keeping the judgment in abeyance for a period of three weeks to enable his client to avail his remedy. However, the court said it was not inclined to stay the same.
Somesh Kumar was appointed Chief Secretary on January 1, 2020, and his tenure will end on December 31, 2023. The High Court bench in the order noted: "We are of the unhesitant opinion that CAT fell in error in interfering with the allocation list and setting aside the same qua the allocation of the first respondent to the State of Andhra Pradesh. The order of CAT to that effect is legally and factually untenable".
"That apart, the further direction of CAT to treat the first respondent as an All India Service officer of the State of Telangana with all consequential benefits is wholly without jurisdiction. Such a direction could not have been issued by CAT, the cadre controlling authority being the Central Government. It is evident that CAT had examined the challenge to the allocation order made by the first respondent like an appellate authority substituting its views for that of the Central Government which is not permissible in law," it said.
After the court ruling, the DoPT communication stated: "In compliance with the aforesaid judgment the officer concerned (Shri Somesh Kumar IAS AP:89) stands relieved from the State Government of Telangana, with immediate effect. He is directed to join the State Government of Andhra Pradesh latest by January 12, 2023."
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 necessitates the division and re-allocation of personnel serving in the erstwhile composite State of Andhra Pradesh including those belonging to the All India Services to the two successor states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. After the bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh into separate states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014, the Union government had re-allotted IAS and IPS officers.
The Union government constituted an advisory committee under the chairmanship of S Pratyush Sinha and the advisory committee recommended norms and principles to be adopted for allocation of All India Service officers borne on the cadre of undivided Andhra Pradesh to the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. On the basis of such recommendations, the Union government issued guidelines dated May 30, 2014, for the allocation of All India Services officers borne on the undivided cadre of Andhra Pradesh between the successor states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Simultaneously, a provisional list was prepared to make allocation of the All India Services officers borne on the cadre of the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh to the successor states. Somesh Kumar, an IAS officer of the 1989 batch, was allotted to Andhra Pradesh, though he had opted for Telangana. Initially, he made two representations to the advisory committee requesting a change of allocation from Andhra Pradesh cadre to Telangana cadre. Somesh Kumar then challenged the same in CAT, which had quashed the allotment order and allowed him to continue in Telangana.
The Union of India through the Secretary to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension in the Department of Personnel and Training filed a petition in the High Court assailing the legality and validity of the judgment and order dated March 29, 2016, passed by the CAT. The then Additional Solicitor General had submitted that CAT had erred on facts as well as on law in setting aside the allocation of Somesh Kumar to Andhra Pradesh. "CAT had issued directions to treat the first respondent as an All India Service officer of Telangana state with all consequential benefits. Such a direction is completely untenable," the ASG had further submitted.
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