The Supreme Court ruled that all the entries in the ACR of a public servant must be communicated to him within the reasonable period.
The respondent who belonged to the cadre of Indian Telecom Group A was sent on deputation to BSNL. He was posted as Deputy General Manager, BSNL, Sikar.
His ACR grading was “Very Good” for the years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. However, for the year 2007-2008, his ACR grading was only “Good”. The below benchmark grading for the year 2007-2008 was communicated to him.
The respondent was informed that if he was not satisfied with the same, he may submit his representation to the General Manager, Telecom, Rajasthan Circle, Jaipur. The respondent accordingly submitted a representation. It was the case on behalf of the respondent that he got ACR grading as “Very Good” for the years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, however, for the year 2007-2008, he got ACR grading as only “Good”, despite there being no deficiency or inefficiency in performance of his work, the Reviewing Officer erroneously rated him “Good” in the ACR of the year 2007-2008, instead of “Very Good”, as was given to him in ACRs of previous two years.
Madhavi Divan, ASG, appearing for the appellants, submitted that in the case before the DPC met, an opportunity was given to the respondent to make his representation against the below benchmark ACR of the year 2007-2008.
She contended that the High Court as well as the Tribunal have erred in directing to ignore the below benchmark ACR for the year 2007-2008 mainly and solely on the ground that prior to writing the below benchmark ACR, no opportunity was given to the respondent officer.
She argued that merely because in the earlier years, the respondent achieved “Very Good”, only on that ground, it cannot be held that awarding “Good” in the subsequent year was arbitrary and/or mala fide.
Advocate Mukesh Kumar Sharma, appearing for the respondent officer, contended that considering the fact that in the earlier years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007, the respondent’s ACRs were “Very Good” and in the year 2007-2008, the very reporting officer/reviewing authority gave the below benchmark “Good” and before giving the below benchmark ACR – “Good”, no opportunity was given to the respondent to improve himself against the proposed below benchmark ACR, both, the Tribunal as well as the High Court have rightly directed to review the case of the respondent ignoring the below benchmark ACR of the year 2007-2008.
The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna reiterated that all entries in the ACR of a public servant must be communicated to him within the reasonable period so that he can make a representation for his upgradation despite there be no rule or government order to that effect.
The court noted that the new system of communicating the entries in Annual Performance Assessment Report (APAR) provides that the same should be communicated within a period of fifteen days from the date of receipt of the entries in the APAR.
The bench opined that in view of the facts and circumstances, the Tribunal and the High Court have not committed any error in directing the Department to call for a review meeting of the Screening Committee to re-assess the suitability of the respondent for the purpose of grant of SAG and while doing so to exclude the ACR for the year 2007-2008.
Case title: Union of India and Ors. v/s G.R. Meghwal
Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2021 OF 2022