The Allahabad High Court emphatically asserted that both Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and Coach Mid Life Rehabilitation Workshop (CMLRW) are integral parts of the same department within the Union of India. The Court emphasized that any delays or arbitrary decisions made by one arm of the department cannot deprive the employees, in this case, the respondents, of their rightful benefits.

The respondents, serving at Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, had applied for deputation to (CMLRW) in 2013. They later sought repatriation to their parent department, ICF, due to pending promotions. ICF rejected their applications citing lack of valid reasons. The respondents moved the Central Administrative Tribunal, which ruled in their favor, directing their repatriation to ICF with notional promotion.

A Division Bench of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice Rajendra Kumar-IV held that, “Seen, thus both ICF and CMLRW are two arms of the same department of the Union of India. Delay caused by one and arbitrary action taken by another may not be relied any benefit accruing to the respondents. Ultimately, it is the department of the Railways, under the Union of India that remains primarily responsible and liable for the mistake committed either by ICF or CMLRW or both.”

Advocate Vivek Kumar Singh appeared for the Petitioners and Advocate Alok Kumar Dave appeared for the Respondents.

The petitioner argued that the delay in repatriation was not their fault, blaming ICF's rejection and subsequent closure of the promotional cadre. The respondents contended their right to seek repatriation wasn't restricted, and ICF's rejection lacked grounds. They emphasized both ICF and CMLRW are under the same department, Indian Railways, so internal communications shouldn't impact their repatriation.

The Court held that Indian Railways and its establishments, including ICF and CMLRW, are part of the same entity. The Tribunal's finding that CMLRW's delay caused the repatriation issue was technically incorrect but not decisive. The Court agreeing with respondent’s counsel said, “the Indian Railways does not have a separate entity or existence distinct from the Union of India. It is an inseparable part of the Union of India. Then, within the department of Railways, there exist various establishments including the ICF, Chennai and CMLRW, Jhansi.”

The Court clarified that Clause 7 of the 2013 letter didn't prohibit promotions or repatriation; it aimed to prevent frequent switches in deputation preference. As promotions became available, the respondents logically sought repatriation. ICF's denial, leading to the closure of the cadre, was deemed arbitrary and indefensible. The Court said, “To that extent, the denial offered to the respondents to join back and being forced to wait till the cadre itself closed, was an act wholly arbitrary and indefensible at the hands of the Indian Railways, a department of Union of India.”

The Court upheld the Tribunal's order, dismissing the petition.

Cause Title: Union of India & Ors. v. Ashutosh Kumar & Ors., [2023:AHC:187473-DB]

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