IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 918 OF 2017
Maj. Amod Kumar …Petitioner
Union of India & Anr. …Respondents
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 965/2017
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 1077/2017
J U D G E M E N T
INDU MALHOTRA, J.
1. The abovementioned Writ Petitions were heard together as they
raise common issues, and are being disposed of by the present
2. The facts material for the purposes of deciding the present Writ
Petitions have been set out hereinbelow.
3. The Petitioners are personnel belonging to the Army Service Corps
(“ASC”). The Petitioners in Writ Petition (Civil) Nos. 918 and
1077/2017 are Officers holding the ranks of Major and Lieutenant
Colonel respectively, while the Petitioner in Writ Petition (Civil) No.
965/2017 is holding the rank of Sepoy.
The Petitioners have impugned Posting Orders issued by the
Respondents, posting them to operational units/operational areas.
The Petitioner in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 918/2017 – Major Amod
Kumar, who was serving as an Officer of the ASC, was posted to 44
Rashtriya Rifles as a Mechanical Transport Officer vide Order dated
July 20, 2017. The Petitioner in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 965/2017 –
Sepoy Prahalad Singh was serving in the ASC, having being trained
for driving special vehicles. He was posted to 4 Rashtriya Rifles vide
Order dated September 4, 2017. The Petitioner in Writ Petition
(Civil) No. 1077/2017 – Lieutenant Colonel Shubhankar Mishra,
who was serving as an Officer of the ASC, was posted to 694 Coy
ASC (Tank and Transport) as an Officer Commanding vide Order
dated September 15, 2017.
4. S UBMISSIONS OF THE PETITIONERS
The Petitioners were represented by Ms. Meenakshi Arora, Learned
Senior Advocate. The Petitioners inter alia made the following
4.1. The Petitioners submitted that they belong to the ASC, and
have been posted to ‘operational’ areas/formations despite
the findings of this Court in Union of India & Anr. v. Lt. Col.
P.K. Choudhary & Ors.1
(“Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s Case”).
4.2. The Petitioners submitted that this Court in Lt. Col. P.K.
Choudhary’s Case had held that the ASC, EME and other
Minor Corps are ‘nonoperational’ units/formations based on
the stand taken by the Union of India.
The Petitioners submitted that even though the findings of
this Court in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s Case that the ASC
are ‘nonoperational’ were rendered while adjudicating the
issue of distribution of vacancies which had been created
for the rank of Colonel amongst the various Corps of the
Indian Army, the same would apply in the present case.
4.3. The Petitioners claim that as a consequence of the Judgement
in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s Case wherein the Petitioners have
been classified to be ‘nonoperational’ for promotional
avenues, the same classification should apply as a necessary
corollary for the purposes of deployment and postings also.
4.4. It was submitted that the preference given to ‘operational’
Corps in the matter of promotions was unjustified,
particularly since personnel of the ASC move alongside with
personnel belonging to the other Corps in operational areas.
Thus, they are as vulnerable as the personnel of the other
1(2016) 4 SCC 236.
On this basis, the Posting Orders issued by the
Respondents directing the Petitioners to serve in operational
units/areas were challenged as being in gross violation of
their Fundamental Rights and principles of natural justice.
5. SUBMISSIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS
The Respondents – Union of India, and the Military Secretary
Branch were represented by Mr. R. Balasubramanian, Learned
Advocate. The Respondents made the following submissions:
5.1. The present Writ Petitions under Article 32 are not
maintainable, since there is no violation of their Fundamental
Rights whatsoever. Hence, the Writ Petitions are liable to be
dismissed at the threshold on this count alone.
5.2. It was further submitted that if the Writ Petitioners have any
grievance, the alternate remedy of challenging the Posting
Orders before the Armed Forces Tribunal is available. Hence,
the Writ Petitions are liable to be dismissed on this ground
5.3. On merits, it was submitted that transfers are not only a
necessary incident of service, but an essential condition of
service. An employee has no legal right, much less a
Fundamental Right, to be posted in a particular place, or to
be transferred to a place of his/her choice. The competent
authority is empowered to determine the place of posting of
the personnel concerned.
In this regard, reliance was placed on the decision of this
Court in Major General J.K. Bansal v. Union of India & Ors.2
submit that the scope of interference in matters of transfer of
members of the armed forces is very limited, and courts
should be slow to interfere with the decisions of competent
authorities, in the absence of an exceptionally strong case.
5.4. It was further submitted that the reliance placed by the
Petitioners on the observations made in Lt. Col. P.K.
Choudhary’s Case (supra) is misplaced.
In that case, this Court was considering the issue of
allocation of additional vacancies created in the SelectionGrade
rank of Colonel pursuant to the implementation of the
recommendations of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee. The
decision in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s Case was not rendered in
the context of transfers or posting orders.
5.5. The Respondents submitted that the Army has no personnel
who are ‘noncombatants’ or ‘nonoperational’, with the
exception of personnel belonging to the medical organisation
2(2005) 7 SCC 227.
who have a distinct status under International Humanitarian
Law. The Combat Arms, Combat Support Arms, Army Service
Corps, and other Minor Corps are all ‘operational’ entities
having a distinct ‘operational’ role.
5.6. The posting of the Petitioners is a part of their Regimental
Duty, and is not based on their willingness to occupy such
5.7. The postings of the Petitioners are in accordance with the
policies and instructions of career planning, and management
issued from time to time, and do not violate any statutory
The Petitioners have not referred to any statutory rules,
executive policies, or instructions which debar them from
being posted to such areas.
5.8. It was further submitted that the Petitioners have not alleged
any mala fides or vindictiveness on the part of the authority
which has issued the Posting Orders. Hence, the Writ
Petitions cannot be entertained on this ground also.
5.9. The Respondents submitted that the claim of the Petitioners
that they are ‘nonoperational’ or ‘noncombatants’ is
untenable as it strikes at the very root of the organisational
effectiveness of the Army. If the grievance of the Petitioners
was to be entertained, it would generate disaffection amongst
personnel, and directly impact the morale of the forces.
6. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
In light of the submissions advanced by the parties, the following
issues arise for consideration:
Whether the present Writ Petitions filed under Article 32 of the
Constitution are maintainable?
Whether the action of the Respondents in posting the Petitioners
and members of the ASC to ‘operational’ areas/units are valid in
view of the decision of this Court in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s
Whether the postings of the Petitioners to operational areas are
violative of statutory rules, executive policies or instructions?
The aforesaid issues will be addressed seriatim hereinbelow.
6.1. Before adverting to the issues at hand, a reference to the
composition of the Army would provide the contextual matrix
of the case.
The Army is comprised of eleven major streams viz. – 1)
Armoured Corps, 2) Infantry, 3) Mechanised Infantry, 4)
Artillery, 5) Air Defence, 6) Engineers, 7) Signals, 8) Army
Service Corps, 9) Army Ordnance Corps, 10) Electronics and
Mechanical Engineers, and 11) Other Corps including
Intelligence, Aviation and other Minor Corps.
Each stream has a distinct and specialised role. Personnel
are imparted specialised training in their designated field. All
streams work and cooperate in order to form a cohesive
The ASC is a vital stream which is primarily responsible for
ensuring provisioning, procurement, and distribution of
supplies. ASC personnel provide the logistical support in the
form of transportation, maintenance of vehicles, driving in
difficult terrain, preserving equipment, and conserving fuel
6.2. The Petitioners have contended that the Posting Orders
passed by the Respondents posting them to operational
areas/units is violative of their Fundamental Rights
guaranteed by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The
Petitioners have, however, failed to substantiate how their
Fundamental Rights have been violated. Postings and
transfers are a necessary incident of service. Hence, the
grievance, if any, cannot be entertained under Article 32.
6.3. The Petitioners cannot assail posting/transfer orders directly
before the Supreme Court by way of Writ Petitions under
Article 32 of the Constitution. If the Petitioners have any
genuine grievance, they have an alternate statutory remedy
available by challenging the same before the Armed Forces
Hence, the Writ Petitions under Article 32 are liable to be
rejected on the ground of availability of an alternate remedy.
6.4. The decision of this Court in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s Case
(supra) was rendered while adjudicating an Order passed by
the Armed Forces Tribunal on a Policy Circular dated
January 20, 2009 issued by the Government of India which
had been quashed, and directions were issued to the Union of
India to consider the personnel belonging to the Arms, Arms
Support, and ASC for promotion to the rank of Colonel by
creating supernumerary posts.
This Court was considering the issue of distribution of
vacancies which had been created for the rank of Colonel
amongst the various Corps of the Indian Army. This Court
considered the findings of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee,
and noted that Armoured Corps, Infantry, Mechanised
Infantry, Artillery, AD, Engineers and Signals were
‘operational formations’, while the ASC, Army Ordnance
Corps, and Electronics and Mechanical Engineers were not.3
The Officers belonging to the ASC, Army Ordinance Corps,
and Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, i.e. the services
stream, do not constitute a common cadre with those serving
in the Arms, and Arms Support for the purposes of
As a result, they were not entitled to be considered for
promotion to the rank of Colonel against the vacancies
created in pursuance of the implementation of the AVS
This Court was not concerned with the issue of posting of
personnel belonging to the ASC, and the findings therein
cannot be said to apply to the present case.
This Court was cognisant of the differential treatment
accorded to personnel belonging to the ASC, amongst other
streams, in the matter of promotions. The following
observations made by this Court in Lt. Col. P.K. Choudhary’s
Case are pertinent, and are reproduced here under:
“…The true position is that allocation of officers to
different Arms and Services puts them in distinct cadres
with the result that those comprising a particular cadre
will have his or her promotional avenues available
3(2016) 4 SCC 236, at paragraph 22.
4(2016) 4 SCC 236, at paragraph 36.
against the posts comprising that cadre alone
notwithstanding the fact that the Government of India
may, as a policy, attempt to ensure as far as possible
that officers of a given batch pick up their ranks around
the same time or within a reasonable span of their
counterparts in other cadres or that the disparity in time
frame for promotion is removed by making promotions
retrospective from the dates officers in other cadre have
The contention of the Petitioners claiming parity with a
different arm of the service, is misconceived and meritless,
and is liable to be dismissed.
Different streams of the Army have distinct, and specialised
roles. They work in coordination with each other. The
personnel of the ASC are imparted specialised training to
provide logistical support to the other streams in the form of
maintenance of vehicles, availability of trained drivers,
preservation of equipment, and conservation of fuel.
To accept the prayers of the Petitioners merely on the basis
of the contention that the ASC have been referred to as ‘nonoperational’
for the purposes of promotion, would be to
disturb the entire structure and operations of the Army.
6.5. The Petitioners have not made any submission that the
postings are in violation of any statutory rules, executive
5(2016) 4 SCC 236, at paragraph 38.
policies or instructions.
In this regard, reliance can be placed on the decision of this
Court in Major General J.K. Bansal v. Union of India (supra),
which was cited by the Counsel for the Respondents during
the hearing. In the said decision, this Court had referred to a
number of its precedents6
on the scope of interference of
Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution in cases where
transfer orders had been challenged. The Court held that
matters of transfers are best left to the discretion of the
competent authority, and should not be tinkered with, in the
absence of a demonstrable violation of statutory rules, or an
instance of mala fide on the part of the competent authority.
This Court noted as follows:
“12…The scope of interference by the courts in regard to
members of the armed forces is far more limited and
narrow. It is for the higher authorities to decide when
and where a member of the armed forces should be
posted. The courts should be extremely slow in
interfering with an order of transfer of such category of
persons and unless an exceptionally strong case is
made out, no interference should be made.”
The Petitioners have not alleged any mala fide against the
Respondents. Hence, the contentions of the Petitioners
cannot be entertained.
6Shilpi Bose v. State of Bihar, 1991 Supp (2) SCC 659; Union of India v. S.L. Abbas, (1993) 4 SCC
357; and, National Hydroelectric Power Corpn. Ltd. v. Shri Bhagwan, (2001) 8 SCC 574.
6.6. The Respondents have made a reference to the Oath
administered to Officers and Sepoys alike at the time of
commissioning. The said Oath is reproduced hereinbelow for
“I (Name) hereby solemnly swear that I will bear true
faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India, as by
law established and that I will, as in duty bound
honestly and faithfully, serve in the regular Army of the
Union of India and go wherever ordered, by land, sea or
air, and that I will observe and obey all the commands
of the President of the Union of India and the commands
of any officer set above me, even to the peril of my life.”
This Oath is administered to all personnel, irrespective of
the Arm or Service to which they are commissioned. As per
the Oath, personnel are duty bound to serve wherever they
are ordered to.
6.7. In view of the above discussion, the Petitioners have failed to
make out any case for interference by this Court.
7. In light of the aforesaid findings, the Writ Petitions are dismissed,
with no order as to costs.
September 6, 2018.
ITEM No. 1501 Court No. 9 SECTION X
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No. 918 of 2017
MAJ. AMOD KUMAR Petitioner(s)
UNION OF INDIA AND ANR. Respondent(s)
W.P.(CIVIL) NO. 965 OF 2017
W.P.(CIVIL) NO. 1077 OF 2017
Date : 06.09.2018 These matters were called on for pronouncement
of judgment today.
For Appellant(s) Ms. Meenakshi Arora, Sr. Adv.
Ms. Neela Gokhale, Adv.
Mr. Ilam Paridi, Adv.
Ms. Shradha Agrawal, Adv.
Ms. Kamakshi S.Mehlwal, Adv.
For Respondent(s) Mr. Mukesh Kumar Maroria, Adv.
Mr. Arvind Kumar Sharma, Adv.
Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indu Malhotra pronounced the
judgment of the Bench comprising Hon’ble Mr. Justice
Rohinton Fali Nariman and Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indu
These petitions are dismissed in terms of the
signed reportable judgment. There shall be no order
as to costs.
(Tapan Kumar Chakraborty)
(Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)