Previous adverse remarks of dishonesty not “washed off” by subsequent promotion

Rajasthan High Court: While dismissing a petition relating to the promotion of a Grade IV employee, the Court held that the adverse remarks given earlier related to dishonesty and integrity not washed off by subsequent promotion in considering suitability for a post which is based on evaluation of entire record.

In the present case, the petitioner, a grade IV employee of the RBI was declined a promotion to the post of Assistant Care Taker in Grade III by the Bank on the ground of being found guilty of misconduct by a Departmental Inquiry in 1998. He filed a civil writ petition against his non-promotion before the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner alleged arbitrariness and mala fide in the action of the Selection Committee in not considering him for promotion to the relevant post and also invoked “wash off” theory to contend that subsequent promotion after the punishment of 1998 washed off the previous guilt and hence he was eligible for promotion. Besides, the petitioner also raised the plea of equity and wanted the Court to be sympathetic to him as the misconduct and subsequent punishment by the Departmental Inquiry of the year 1998 had become stale by then.

The Single Judge bench comprising of Alok Sharma, J. dismissed the petition and held that it would not, by virtue of power under Article 226, interfere with the Administrative process except in the cases of Wednesbury unreasonableness, ex-facie unfairness, bias and mala fides which, in the present case, were not there since the suitability for promotion as Assistant Care Taker assessable under RBI’s Master Circular on Promotion Policy for Class-III and IV employees issued on 2nd July 2012 was to be based on the evaluation of the entire record of the employee.

As to the “washing off” theory, Court relied on Badrinath v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2000) 8 SCC 395, in which it was held that if adverse remarks relate to a period prior to an earlier promotion, they indeed can be treated as having lost their sting and being rendered weak subject to the rider that if they relate to dishonesty or lack of integrity, they can be considered to have not lost their strength fully so as to be ignored altogether. The Court also rejected the plea of equity on the ground that where there is a conflict between law and equity, it is the law which will prevail. Patel Ram Meena v. Reserve Bank of India, 2015 SCC OnLine Raj 1637decided on 27.07.2015


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