The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the posting order of an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer, who challenged it on the ground that he was recruited in a sports unit and not for general trade duty, saying true sportsmen never give up and assigning trade duty cannot jeopardise his cricketing career.
The high court said the officer, even if recruited for sports duty, will always be subject to posting or transfer.
"True Sportsmen never give up, so his posting/ transfer or the nature of duties assigned would not be an impediment, and irrespective of such place of posting/ transfer or duties, we feel it would be easy for him to find his way through and move up the ranks to represent the services cricket team soon. Assigning trade duty can neither take away his opportunity of playing cricket nor jeopardise his cricketing career," a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Saurabh Banerjee said.
The officer approached the high court saying that he was enrolled in the IAF as an outstanding sportsman (Cricket) in 2016 and after completing the training he was posted to 3 Wg, IAF (Palam Station) for sports duties in December 2017.
He said he has represented IAF in the services cricket team in Ranji Trophy between 2017 till 2020.
The plea said during this time, the petitioner was also unable to appear for the examination at university.
It also said that in March 2021 when his cricket coach asked him to run, he was unable to do so due to a knee injury and it was considered indiscipline on his part.
It said despite being the best opener in 2018-19, he was not selected for 2019-20 matches and as he was selected as a sportsman for sports duty, he was never attached to any trade duty till March 12, 2021.
The plea said that the officer was sent on trade duty in Bangalore vide the first posting order for around four and a half months and thereafter, he joined back his parent department in September 2021.
On September 7, 2021, the second posting order was issued to him for trade duty at Agra which has been challenged by the officer before the high court.
IAF contended before the court that the petitioner cannot compromise the Military Code of Conduct and is bound by service requirements and move to posting for trade duty and that transfer is a service exigency.
In IAF, the discipline and morals of Air Warriors are the primary epitome regardless of performance, thus the force cannot conceptualise with it adversely affecting and disseminating the wrong message, it said.
The authorities filed relevant documents to show that the officer was a non-performer and that the selection of services cricket team consisting of representatives from the Army, Navy, and Air Force is based on merit and performance.
The bench said the second posting order does not call for any interference by this court.
The high court, in its order, said that officers like the petitioner recruited by IAF are to perform all kinds of duties, including general duty, for their entire service career.
Petitioner cannot lose sight of the age-old saying, 'Once a Sportsman always a Sportsman', which though true is always with many riders as it depends upon focus, discipline, devotion, dedication, fitness, and ability amongst many others, the bench said.
It further said that once recruited for sports duty, sportsmen like the petitioner shall remain governed by the sports policies till their entire service career and shall always be subject to medical fitness and performance efficiency.
Failure on the part of sportsmen, like the petitioner, would entail posting/ transfer for general duty and it will be inevitable, it said, adding that otherwise, the whole purpose for recruitment of sportsmen for sports duty by IAF will be defeated, more so whence such recruitment is for a particular reason and period.
The court said being a cricketer himself, he ought to be aware that though not the national sport yet 'cricket' is by far the most popular sport played all across the country.