In a ruling aimed at checking bias in departmental promotions, the Central Administrative Tribunal has said if a Departmental Promotion Committee goes against the entries in an employee’s Annual Confidential Reports, the panel must give reasons for its decision.
A CAT bench said: “The DPC, as per DOP&T instructions may make its own assessment on the basis of entries in the ACRs and may not be guided merely by the overall grading. However, in cases where the assessment by DPCs are apparently not in line with the gradings in the ACRs, the DPC should appropriately substantiate its assessment...”
The ruling came on a petition filed by an income tax commissioner, who was ignored for promotion to the post of Chief Commissioner of I-T even as his juniors made it to the post.
This was despite the fact that D. K. Singh, Commissioner of Income Tax (appeal-IV), M.G. Road, Chennai had the prescribed benchmark (very good) in all the ACRs under consideration.
Singh, an Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) Officer of 1977 batch, enjoyed excellent service record.
However, the DPC held on October 23, 2009 did not recommend Singh for promotion. Copies of his ACRs (2003-04 to 2007-08) revealed his reporting officer had given adverse remarks, which was corrected by the reviewing officer, who graded him as ‘very good’.
Singh, who had always been graded ‘very good’ in the ACRs preceding and succeeding the year 2005-06, submitted that “if one were to go by the remarks of the reporting officer, there is sudden sharp decline in the personal traits and skills of the applicant for the year 2005-06 ....Sharp fluctuations are not possible ... rather suggest bias and malice ....”
Singh alleged that the DPC went by assessment of the reporting officer and ignored the report made by the reviewing officer. As per the SC rulings adverse remarks in ACRs have to be communicated to employee concerned.
The CAT said: “Assuming that the reporting officer would have graded the applicant (Singh) only as ‘good’ because of some adverse remarks given by him, the same stood overruled by the reviewing officer. Though such was the position, the DPC could still take its own view and overrule the grading done by the reporting or the reviewing officer. For that, it was required to record reasons.”
The CAT pointed out that there was not a word mentioned as to why Singh had been found ‘unfit’. “There is not even a mention that ACR of the applicant ... would be considered only as good going by the adverse remarks given by the reporting officer, least the preference between the two gradings done by the reporting and the reviewing officer,” it noted.
“Present is not a case of the reporting officer giving over all grading of ‘good’ to the applicant for the year 2005-06... he has not graded the applicant at all,” the CAT pointed out.
Allowing Singh’s plea, the CAT directed the department of revenue, department of personnel and training and the UPSC to convene a review DPC for considering his case for promotion to the post of chief commissioner of I-T, as expeditiously as possible and definitely within a period of two months.
“In case the review DPC assesses the applicant fit for promotion, he would be promoted from the date persons junior to him were promoted, with all ...benefits,” the CAT ordered.