Despite serving for more than 750 days in the Urban Development Department, KAS officer Elisha Andrews has obtained a stay from KSAT on a plea that his transfer was ‘premature’
It has become a common phenomenon for officers in Karnataka to challenge state government orders, and there are several instances where officials have obtained a stay from the appellate authority by not disclosing the relevant facts.
The latest instance is that of Karnataka Administrative Service (KAS) officer Elisha Andrews, who happens to also be president of the KAS officer’s association. Despite a tenure of more than 750 days, or over two years, in the Urban Development Department (UDD), he is not willing to move out as ordered.
No value for CM’s writ?
On Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s instructions, Andrews was transferred from the UDD on March 25, 2022, and was posted as Deputy Commissioner (Admin), Food Safety and Quality Authority, in Bengaluru. He defied the CM’s order and approached the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal (KSAT), challenging it as a ‘premature’ transfer. Thereupon, KSAT issued a stay order and asked the authorities to maintain status quo.
TheBengaluruLive has access to a document dated March 5, 2020, pertaining to Andrews’ posting as Deputy Secretary-1 to the UDD — information that was apparently not available to KSAT when it issued a stay on what Andrews claimed was a ‘premature’ transfer.
In fact, during a KSAT hearing on March 30, the government pleader produced a copy of the notification dated March 5, 2020, which refers to Elisha Andrews’ posting to the UDD as Deputy Secretary-1. Later, Andrews was posted as Deputy Secretary-2 in 2021.
KSAT should verify facts
So far, KSAT has conducted two hearings in the case and has ordered that status quo be maintained till the next date of the hearing on April 6, 2022.
In his application to the tribunal, Andrews asked for a direction from KSAT to the authorities to continue his service in the UDD till the completion of his tenure, on the ground that the government had not transferred him and had not indicated any new posting for him.
Per contra, Bindumark (the 3rd respondent in the case) has been transferred by the government in place of Andrews. “The transfer is a premature one. The applicant has not been relieved from his duties. Hence, he has sought a stay of the impugned order,” Andrews maintained in his application to KSAT.
KSAT’s ‘status quo’ order
In its order of March 28, KSAT said, “Perused the grounds mentioned in the application and all the annexures. At this stage, the applicant has made out some arguable case. On perusal of the impugned order and the previous orders, it is a fit case to order status quo as on this day till the next date of hearing. Hence, we proceed to pass the following order: Both parties are hereby directed to maintain status quo as on today, till the next date of hearing. The learned government pleader is directed to accept the notice on behalf of respondents No.1 and 2. Issue emergent notice to the 3rd respondent along with the status quo order, if PF and RPAD charges are paid and necessary copies are furnished by the applicant.”
Later, on March 30, the government pleader shared the ‘shocker’ of Elisha Andrews’ posting order to the UDD dated March 5, 2020.
As Bindumark was absent, KSAT has extended the interim order of status quo till April 6.
TheBengaluruLive sent a message to Andrews seeking his reaction to his ‘premature’ transfer as claimed by him in his KSAT petition. But by the time the story was published on our website, we had not received any reply from him. We will publish Andrews’ reply once it is shared with us.
How will CM react?
Be that as it may, all eyes are now on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to see how he reacts to this case of ‘insubordination’ by a bureaucrat, as it could pave the way for other officials to defy the government’s transfer orders and seek a stay from the appellate authorities.