26 Feb 2023 7:24 AM GMT
Failure to accord sufficient time for an employee to challenge the assessment of their performance for a particular year in an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) before a departmental promotion committee is convened, would be treated as a non-disclosure of the evaluation report, the Supreme Court said on Friday, while setting aside the proceedings of a DPC of the Manipur High...
Failure to accord sufficient time for an employee to challenge the assessment of their performance for a particular year in an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) before a departmental promotion committee is convened, would be treated as a non-disclosure of the evaluation report, the Supreme Court said on Friday, while setting aside the proceedings of a DPC of the Manipur High Court determining appointment to the post of assistant registrar.
A Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and C.T. Ravikumar was hearing a writ petition by an employee of the high court who claimed that she was entitled to be promoted to the post of assistant registrar on the basis of a seniority-cum-merit calculus. On behalf of the aggrieved petitioner, Senior Advocate R. Bala Subramanian assailed the decision of the promotion committee, inter alia, on the ground that the ACR for the year 2016-17 awarding the employee with a ‘Good’ grade was not communicated to the petitioner and the ACR for the 2019-20 having the same grade, was communicated only one day before the committee met. The crux of the petitioner’s contention was that these two uncommunicated ACRs could not be considered when assessing her suitability for promotion. The senior counsel alleged, “In the remaining years, the petitioner was awarded a ‘Very Good’ grade. If the ACRs for the years 2016-17 and 2019-20 are excluded, the petitioner would have gotten the promotion.”
Noting that the claim of the petitioner that the 2016-17 ACR had not been communicated to her before the promotion committee met in 2021, remained undisputed, the court reiterated that uncommunicated adverse ACRs, even with a ‘Good’ entry (can be considered to be adverse in the context of eligibility for promotion) is not to be relied on when considering an employee for a promotion. Similarly, the performance evaluation report for the year 2019-20 was disclosed one day before the promotion committee was convened, even though the petitioner had 15 days to make a representation against the grade awarded to her in the report. Therefore, Justice Shah wrote, “Either the DPC could have been postponed or the ACR for the year 2019-2020 ought not to have been considered and the same ought to have been treated as uncommunicated ACR.”
The court held:
“The sum and substance of the aforesaid discussion would be that as the ACR grading of ‘Good’ for the year 2016-17 was not communicated till the DPC met, the same is to be ignored and not relied upon for consideration of promotion. Similarly, the grading for the year 2019-2020 also is to be excluded and not relied upon for consideration for promotion as the same was communicated on April 8, 2021, and the petitioner was granted 15 days’ time to make representation. Before the representation could be made, the DPC met on April 9, 2021 and considered the case of the petitioner for promotion…The case of the petitioner for promotion to the post of assistant registrar is required to be considered afresh ignoring the uncommunicated ACRs for the years 2016-17 and 2019-20 and her case is required to be considered afresh taking into consideration the ACRs for the years 2017-18 and 2018-19.”
Notably, in reaching this conclusion, the court made two other significant observations. First, the promotion would not be governed by the Gauhati High Court Service Rules, 1967 prevalent when the posts fell vacant before December 2020, but the independent rules framed by the Manipur High Court after it was separated from the Gauhati High Court, which was prevalent at the time when the promotion committee met to fill the vacancies in 2021.
Second, the bench objected to the failure to provide the high court judges conducting the interviews with the ACR grading and relevant information. “This is absolutely erroneous. The ACR gradings which carry a bigger portion of marks i.e., 80 marks out of 100 marks, ought to have been taken into consideration by the High Court.”
The Manipur High Court was represented by Advocate Maibam Nabaghanashyam Singh, while Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta appeared on behalf of the private respondents whose promotions had been approved by the departmental promotion committee.
R.K. Jibanlata Devi v. High Court of Manipur through its Registrar General & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1209 of 2021
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC)
For Petitioner(s) Mr. R. Balasubramanian, Sr. Adv. Mr. David Ahongsangbam, Adv. Mr. Raj Singh, Adv. Ms. Rajkumari Banju, AOR
For Respondent(s) Mr. Maibam Nabaghanashyam Singh, AOR Mr. Kumar Mihir, AOR
Promotion in Services – Communicating grade awarded in Annual Confidential Report (ACR) – Uncommunicated ACR not to be considered for consideration of promotion – Whether ACR communicated with sufficient time to make representation against it be considered? – Held, ACR communicated one day before promotion committee was convened ought not to be considered since employee had 15 days’ time to make a representation against it – Further held, either the DPC could have been postponed or the ACR ought not to have been considered and the same ought to have been treated as uncommunicated ACR – Writ petition allowed.
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