In a major relief to an Assistant Professor at the Industrial Engineering Department of LE College, Morbi, the Gujarat High Court has directed the respondent authorities to grant him an Academic Grade Pay (AGP) of Rs. 8,000 from 2010 onwards and consequential benefits of INR 9,000 from 2013.
Justice Vaishnav noted that except for certain adverse remarks from 2009-10, there were no adverse remarks against the Petitioner in the 19 years of service that he had rendered. The issue of unauthorised pay was an aspect of penalty even as the other remarks regarding his ability to decisions or lack of initiative were not so grave so as to deprive him of the AGP. The High Court remarked:
"For these two purported adverse instances the financial loss that has occurred to the petitioner is denial of AGPs consequentially based on the communication of 2019."
The Petitioner-Professor was appointed as a Lecturer in the aforesaid college in 1999 and thereafter, in 2007, on completion of six years of service on the same post, he was extended the benefit of Senior Scale of INR 10,000-15,200. He was also designated as an Assistant Professor in 2011. The Petitioner, in 2018, made an application requesting that he was entitled to the upward movement of AGP from INR7,000 to INR 8,000. Subsequently, he moved a similar application for the benefit of upward movement from INR 8,000 to INR 9,000 from 2013, as well. However, the benefit of AGP was granted from 2015 onwards rather than on the completion of five years from 2005 basis certain 'adverse remarks' for the year 2009-10.
The Petitioner submitted that the denial of AGP of INR 8,000 and consequential AGP of INR 9,000 based on the 'adverse remarks' was incorrect. Against the column of 'initiative, resourcefulness and willingness to assume responsibilities' the Petitioner was shown to be weak. Against the column of 'capacity to take quick and sound decisions', it was stated that the petitioner lacks the ability to take quick decisions. Lastly, with regards to 'disciplinary action', it was stated that the Petitioner was on an unauthorised leave for a day.
Taking into account all these assessments, the Petitioner was not granted AGP at par with other Assistant Professors. It was contested that the remarks were 'not so adverse' that the Petitioner should be denied AGP. Per contra, the State contended that the overall report of the Petitioner was good but due to his indiscipline and other lack of abilities, he was not entitled to AGP at par with other professors. The High Court in exercise of Art 226 could re-assess the adverse remarks made in the confidential records of the Petitioner. Reliance was placed on State of Madhya Pradesh vs Srikant Chaphekar to buttress this contention.
Accordingly, it was held that the remarks relating to a brief period of a few months could not have had such an impact on the Petitioner's entire tenure of service such that it would disqualify him from benefitting from AGP.
Case Title: HARSHAD D SANTOKI S/O DEVJIBHAI Versus STATE OF GUJARAT
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 161