Nudged by criticism that the department of personnel and training was ruining careers of officers who did not get along with their bosses, the government has finally decided to act.
Last week, the government finally decided to communicate grades in the Annual Confidential Reports of officers if their performance had been rated anything less than the benchmark for promotions — “very good” — prior to 2008-09.
“…It has been decided that if an employee is to be considered for promotion in a future DPC (departmental promotion committee) and his ACRs prior to 2008-09… contain final grading which are below the benchmark for his next promotion… the employee concerned will be given a copy of the relevant ACR for his representation, if any, within 15 days of such communication,” the department said in a memorandum on April 13.
“It may be noted that only below-benchmark ACR for the period relevant to promotion need be sent. There is no need to send below-benchmark ACRs of other years,” it added. It isn’t that the government still makes a secret of the grading for babus.
The government had to reluctantly adopt a higher transparency norm in 2008-09 on the directions of the Supreme Court that all entries in the ACR of a public servant must be communicated to him within a reasonable period.
“This… is the correct legal position even though there may be no rule/G.O. (Government Order) requiring communication of the entry, or even if there is a rule/G.O. prohibiting it, because principle of non-arbitrariness in State action as envisaged by Article 14 of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court had held in May 2008.
But a year later when the powerful DoPT — that reports to the PM — issued the necessary orders to incorporate this SC directive, it did not make a mention of how grading given by officers prior to the new rule were to be treated.
Silence on this account resulted in the government treating grading in previous years with utmost secrecy. This, despite
the fact the older grading would be taken into consideration.
So, the government continued to submit ACRs with a “good” grading to the Union Public Service Commission for the departmental promotion committee meetings.
Since “good” isn’t really good in the present system of performance evaluation, these officers lost the chance to be promoted without ever being asked to tell their side of the story.
“No less than 50 officers of the rank of Joint Secretaries were forced to file cases in the Central Administrative Tribunal and had to face the humiliation of working under junior officers,” N.K. Jain, Commissioner, Income Tax at Jodhpur, recently wrote in G-Files, a magazine that focuses on government and governance issues.