“Not a case of lack of promotional opportunities”; No financial upgradation to employee refusing regular promotion for personal reasons: SC

Supreme Court: The bench of R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy*, JJ has held that if a regular promotion is offered but is refused by the employee before becoming entitled to a financial upgradation, she/he shall not be entitled to financial upgradation only because she/he has suffered stagnation. This is because, it is not a case of lack of promotional opportunities but an employee opting to forfeit offered promotion, for their own personal reasons.

The Court was deciding a case where respondents were claiming the benefit of Assured Career Progression Scheme (ACP Scheme) for the Central Government civilian employees under the O.M. dated 9.8.1999 issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India, which provided for financial upgradation to the next higher grade of pay for those employees who could not get promotion after 12 years of service. Second upgradation is similarly admissible after 24 years of service.

Suman Lata Bhatia and Manju Arora who were appointed as Senior Translator (Hindi), were offered promotion to the higher post of Translation Officer (Hindi) on regular basis. But due to personal grounds, they refused the offered promotions. However, the benefits under the ACP Scheme were given to the respondents on 15.11.1999 but when it was found that those were wrongly granted, the same were withdrawn. It was specifically reflected in the withdrawal order that the employee having refused promotion on multiple occasions, cannot be said to be stagnating as she, of her own volition has opted to remain in the grade of Senior Translator (Hindi).

Reading of the ACP Scheme, the Court noticed that financial upgradation would accrue to an employee only if no regular promotions have been received by her/him at the prescribed intervals of 12 and 24 years respectively. In the entire service career, an employee is entitled to financial upgradation if the concerned employee had to suffer stagnation in the same post without benefit of any regular promotion and, the O.M. dated 9.8.1999 was introduced as a “safety net” to deal with the problems of genuine stagnation and hardship faced by the employees due to lack of adequate promotional avenues.

Since Manju Arora and Suman Lata Bhatia were offered promotion to higher grade on multiple occasions, but they refused the same and chose to continue in the existing pay scale, the benefit of the Scheme cannot be claimed by them, when they, despite offer of regular promotion, refused to accept the same and chose to remain in the existing grade of their own volition.

The Court also noticed that,

“… when an employee refuses the offered promotion, difficulties in manning the higher position might arise which give rise to administrative difficulties as the concerned employee very often refuse promotion in order to continue in his/her own place of posting.”

[Union of India v. Manju Arora, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 6, decided on 03.01.2022]


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate Meera Patel

For Respondents: Advocates Rajiv Manglik, Piyush Sharma and A.P. Dhamija


*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy

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