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Court quashes order for civil service spouses’ transfer

Ranchi, Oct. 2: The lecturer wives of two high-profile IAS officers, who joined Ranchi University from a Bihar university taking advantage of a notification by the Jharkhand government, now face two options: go back or quit.

Seema Singh and Namita Singh — wives of IAS officers Ashok Kumar Singh and Arun Singh — had been transferred from Bihar’s Magadh University to Ranchi University after the Babulal Marandi government issued the notification on November 9, 2001.

But Jharkhand High Court quashed the notification and came to the rescue of another woman, Rashmi Prasad, who had sought a similar “inter-state transfer” because her husband, Shashi Bhushan Prasad, works for the Ranchi-based Mecon.

Rashmi, a lecturer in botany in Patna Women’s College, had filed a petition contending that the notification should either be extended to include spouses of a Central undertaking like Mecon or quashed. Her counsel argued that the notification had been issued only to benefit the wives of the two IAS officers because it was issued for a limited period of six months.

Chief Justice V.K. Gupta and Justice H.S. Prasad, who heard the petition, observed that the executive had exceeded its brief by trying to do a job that only a legislature could perform.

The “job” was the Babulal Marandi government’s adoption of the Bihar State University Act, 1976, as the Jharkhand State University Act, 2000, and then amending it. The November 2001 amendment altered Section 9(7)(i) of the Jharkhand State University Act, 2000, to empower the chancellor (Governor) to effect such transfers in case of spouses of members of the all-India services.

The government had adopted the Bihar State University Act, 1976, because the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000, which created Jharkhand, had such a provision. This act, the court said, was as per the law, but further amending it to include the “inter-state transfer” provision violated the Constitution.

The Bihar State University Act, 1976, empowered the chancellor to effect transfers of teachers and employees among different universities of the parent state. But, the court held, such transfers could not be effected by chancellor(s) after the bifurcation of Bihar.

The Jharkhand government has decided to promulgate an Ordinance to facilitate inter-state transfers.

“The amendments made in the Jharkhand University Act by using executive power to legislate are not proper. (That) The legislative power of the state is distinct from its executive power is a known facet of the constitutional law and is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.... The legislative power belongs to the legislature, it cannot exercised by the executive,” the court observed.

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