Mere recommendation of the SP at the initial stage not sufficient to claim a right for promotion: SC explains Punjab Police Rules, 1934

Supreme Court: In a case where a Constable’s name was recommended by the Superintendent of Police but the same was dropped down by the Inspector General of Police for promotion under the 10% quota of outstanding performance for inclusion in the B-I List for promotion to the post of Head Constable in the year 2004, the bench of KM Joseph and PS Narsimha, JJ has held that mere recommendation of the SP at the initial stage is not sufficient to claim a right for promotion.

Factual Background

The Appellant was appointed as a Constable in the year 1995. Due to his acts of bravery his name was recommended by the SP for promotion under the 10% quota of outstanding performance for inclusion in the B-I List for promotion to the post of Head Constable in the year 21.01.2004. However, his name was dropped down by the IG, when only 7 out of the 9 names were forwarded to the Central Departmental Promotion Committee (CDPC). Three years thereafter, i.e., in 2007 his name was again forwarded by the SP and this time it was passed by the IG, by virtue of which he was granted promotion and was made the Officiating Head Constable from 26.10.2008.

He contended that he should have been promoted in the year 2004 itself and that the delay in appointing him in 2008 is illegal and arbitrary. He, hence, filed a writ petition in 2011 seeking retrospective promotion with effect from 21.01.2004. The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the petition on the ground that selection is not a matter of right.

Analysis

The Court observed that assumption that the recommendation of DPC headed by the SP is final and that the IG has no power to review or substitute the decision is misconceived.

The Court noticed that Sub-rule 14 of Rule 13.7 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934 clearly empowers the IG to exercise the power of scrutiny and grant approval.

The Rule itself clarifies the position that the recommendations of the SP are not final until the same is approved by the IG. Further, the powers of the IG are elucidated clearly in Rule 13.7(14). It is stated that the ‘approval’ is by the Cadre Controlling Authority of the SP. It is the IG, who shall accord ‘approval’ only upon scrutiny.

“If the IG is not satisfied, he shall not accord approval. The scope of the power vested in the IG is also indicated in the Rule which provides that he can seek clarifications from the DPC and also refer the List back to the SP for corrections/omissions if he thinks it is necessary.”

Having considered the Rule in its entirety, the Court was of the opinion that the recommendation of the DPC is not final. It is also evident that the recommendation of the DPC does not give any indefinite right to be appointed as Head Constable.

It was explained that the 10% quota for constables having outstanding performance will be filled on the basis of State level comparative merits.

There is a three-stage scrutiny before a constable is selected as a Head Constable. The third stage requires the candidate to be sufficiently high in the State Level Comparative Merit of the candidates to be selected under the 10% quota. Therefore, it can never be contended that mere recommendation of the SP at the initial stage is sufficient to claim a right for promotion.

On the contention of Appellant that the subsequent recommendation was also on the very same outstanding performance is concerned, the Court observed that the merits and accolades of the candidates recommended for promotion vary from year to year on a comparative merit scale. The competitive environment differs from year to year. The scrutiny is dynamic and cannot be adjudged on the basis of a previous year’s performance. The Appellant’s accolades may not have made a fit case to be recommended in the year 2004 but the same could make a fit case to be considered in a subsequent year.

“It is the domain of the IG as also the CDPC to analyse, consider and clear the names of the candidates found fit to be promoted in the List B-I for that year and it must best be left to the discretion of the said authorities.”

[Sushil Kumar v. State of Haryana, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 64, decided on 19.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice PS Narsimha


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate Surender Kumar Gupta

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