September 6, 2021 9:44:37 pm
The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) has overturned the transfer of eight constables at the dog squad to various police stations in Pune, quoting instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs and other departments that a constable with a dog squad and attending to a particular dog should not be transferred.
The tribunal on Saturday overturned the transfer — ordered by the Pune police commissioner last September — of eight constables who had been with dogs named Lima, Dhruva, Tyson, Rana, two named Eko, and two more named Surya — all aged between three and seven years — from the time they were puppies. The dogs are posted at various police stations.
In September last year, the constables had been shifted out of their duties as dog handlers to other police stations and new constables had been brought in their place to attend to the dogs by orders of the Pune police commissioner. The eight constables then challenged the transfer before the MAT.
Arguing for the eight constables, their lawyer Punam Mahajan referred to directives issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Special IG (intelligence) to substantiate that dog handlers should not be shifted or transferred to any other place during the operational lifetime of the concerned dog. She argued that by an order dated September 26, 2020, they were shifted out mid-term by the commissioner.
The presenting officer A B Kololgi for the state, however, argued that the constables were working as dog handlers for a long time as against their normal tenure of five years. She further argued that they were transferred within Pune city itself, thereby causing them no inconvenience or hardship. She also said that new dog handlers had been appointed and were being trained.
The tribunal, composed of judicial member A P Kurhekar, observed that while the constables had been at the same posting for more than five years, “the matter pertained to dog handlers and not police personnel as normally understood”.
The tribunal further said, “In so far as dog handlers are concerned, it being a specialised unit, the transfer of dog handlers are governed by the guidelines issued by the Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as Special IG (intelligence) which specifically provides that the tenure of a dog handler should not be changed during the operational life time of a dog.”
Referring to Maharashtra State Police Dog Squad Manual, the tribunal said, “The idea behind it is to achieve best performance by continuance with the same dog handler with the concerned dog and to utilize their expertise which a dog handler gets on account of his continuous association and working with the concerned dog.”
The tribunal further observed that the eight constables had been transferred mid-term and not during the period of general transfer, which is only allowed in special cases for public interest or administrative exigency.
Observing that no such reason had been provided for their transfers as well, the tribunal allowed the application of the eight constables and passed an order to quash and set aside their transfer order.
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