Orissa High Court: In a writ petition filed under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, wherein the petitioner had sought directions to the Government of Odisha and respective authorities to promote the petitioner to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (‘DSP’), the Single Judge Bench of A.K. Mohapatra, directed the authorities to open the sealed cover containing the result of the Departmental Promotion Committee (‘DPC’) regarding the Petitioner’s promotion and promote the petitioner to the rank of DSP.
The Petitioner was serving as Inspector of Police in Puintala Police Station in the district of Bolangir. On complaint by Additional Superintendent of Police, disciplinary proceedings were registered against the petitioner. The petitioner had cooperated with the Departmental Authority, however, the disciplinary proceedings were not concluded and delayed.
During the pendency of these proceedings, a DPC meeting was convened to consider the promotion of the Inspectors to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Although the Petitioner was eligible for such promotion along with his batchmates, his case was not considered on the ground that the required numbers of Performance Appraisal Report (PAR) were not available for consideration by the DPC. The batchmates of the Petitioner and immediately juniors of the Petitioner were promoted ignoring the case of the Petitioner.
Thereafter, a review DPC was held on 22-07-2021 and the case of the petitioner was considered after receiving the required number of PARs and the decision of the said review DPC was kept in a sealed cover.
Thus, the Petitioner had approached the Court seeking directions to open the sealed cover and grant his promotion.
The Court noted that initially the Petitioner’s name was sent to DPC along with other eligible candidates. The Court was of the considered view that the Petitioner must satisfy that he fulfilled all the eligibility criteria for the promotion. The Court also noted that the DPC meeting held on 28-01-2021 which had recommended the batchmates and immediate juniors of the Petitioner for promotion to the post of DSP, the case of the Petitioner was not considered due to lack of adequate number of Performance Appraisal Reports (‘PARs’). The Court said that such non-availability of the PARs cannot be a ground not to consider the case of the Petitioner for promotion which is a right vested by law upon the Petitioner. The Court also said that it has been previously held that a Government employee cannot be denied promotion merely on the ground that adequate numbers of PARs are not made available to the DPC, or the APRs are not transferred by the authorities.
The Court was not hesitant to conclude that although the case of the Petitioner was considered in the review DPC meeting, which was held subsequently, however, the same must be counted from the date of original DPC that was convened and the recommendations of the batchmates and immediate juniors of the Petitioners were made for promotion to next higher rank. The Court also said that accordingly, if the limitation prescribed for the conclusion of Disciplinary Proceedings in the Office Memorandum dated 17-06-2021 of two years is calculated w.e.f. the date of the DPC meeting for the year 2020 held on 28-01-2021, it was crystal clear that the two-year time frame had already expired in the meantime. Therefore, the case of the Petitioner for ad hoc promotion to the post of DSP could have been considered by the authorities in the light of the Office Memorandum dated 17-06-2021.
Thus, the Court directed the authorities concerned to open the sealed cover within a period of four weeks from the date of production of certified copy of the Judgment. Further, the Court also said that such ad hoc promotion of the Petitioner shall be subject to other terms and conditions as provided in the Office Memorandum dated 17-06-2021.
[Geeti Ranjan Mohapatra v. State of Odisha, 2023 SCC OnLine Ori 2393, Decided on 12-05-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Counsels for the Petitioners: Advocate A.K. Acharya, Advocate S. Mishra and Advocate A. Acharya;
Counsels for the Respondents: Additional Standing Counsel Tarun Pattnaik.