‘Performance cannot be both unsatisfactory and outstanding in same year’; Rajasthan High Court quashes adverse entries made in Annual Confidential Report

rajasthan high court

Rajasthan High Court: In a case wherein the petitioner filed a petition to quash and set aside the adverse remarks in his Annual Confidential Report (‘ACR') for the year 2005-2006, Anoop Kumar Dhand, J., opined that the officer entrusted with duty to write confidential reports, has a public responsibility and trust to write the confidential reports objectively and subsequently quashed and expunged the adverse entries made in the petitioner's ACR.


The petitioner was holding the post of Additional Regional Transport Officer and was promoted to the post of Regional Transport Officer against 2005-2006 vacancies vide order dated 15-07-2005. Thereafter, the promotion order of the petitioner was recalled, and the petitioner was given promotion on 10-12-2012 against 2009-2010 vacancies. This delay was due to the adverse entries recorded into the ACR of the petitioner pertaining to the year 2005-2006.

The petitioner contended that he served the Department for more than three decades and his services remained unblemished, there were no complaints against him, and no charge sheet was ever served to him. The petitioner further contended that it was the settled proposition of law that the authorities were required to record the reason and inform the officer concerned of the change in the form of an advise. However, without giving any advisory and notice, the ACR of the petitioner was downgraded to unsatisfactory while the work performance of the petitioner was excellent.

Analysis Law and Decision

The Court opined that, while exercising power of judicial review though the Court could not moderate the appraisal and grading of an employee, but if it found that adverse entries made in the ACR or grading given to an employee were vitiated by extraneous consideration, the Court must interfere and quash them. The Court opined that it was essential to maintain the integrity and sanctity of the ACR of an employee and the legitimacy of the conclusions relating to his/her overall performance.

Further, the Court relied on State of U.P. v. Yamuna Shanker Misra, (1997) 4 SCC 7 and Union of India v. E.G. Nambudiri, (1991) 3 SCC 38, and opined that the officer entrusted with duty to write confidential reports, had a public responsibility and trust to write the confidential reports objectively, fairly and dispassionately while giving an overall assessment of the performance of the Officer. However, at the same time, the Reporting Officer, before forming an opinion adverse to the Subordinate Officer, should confront the officer with such information and then only the same might be made part of the report.

The Court opined that the remarks in Annual Performance Appraisal Report (‘APAR') of a government servant play a significant role in his service career. While good remarks might help him gain timely promotion, adverse remarks might delay or permanently end the chances of such promotion. The Court also opined that though it could not be insisted but it was desired that principles of natural justice in the sense of notice and providing opportunity to be heard at least in some semblance had always been impressed upon the executive by series of judicial pronouncements. Such a course was required to be adopted to rule out any possibility of arbitrariness and colourable exercise of power.

The Court further opined that the guidelines contained in APAR Instructions of 1976, issued by Government of Rajasthan, insisted on objectivity of assessment rather than subjectivity of the officer making such assessment. They were intended to safeguard the interest of the government servants so that no prejudice is caused to them by any possible bias on the part of the officer recording remarks in his APAR.

The Court noted that in the same year the ACR was filed for the period commencing from 16-7-2005 to March 2006, the Reporting Officer found the performance of the petitioner ‘outstanding', and this fact was recorded in his ACR. Thus, the Court opined that the ACRs of the petitioner for the period commencing w.e.f. 01-04-2005 to 16-12-2005 and 16-07-2005 to March 2016 were self-contradictory. The performance of a person like the petitioner could not be unsatisfactory and outstanding in the same year. Sudden adverse remarks in the half year of the ACR of the petitioner suffered from biasness. Hence, the adverse remarks in the ACR of the petitioner pertaining to the period 01-04-2005 to 16-12-2005 were not tenable in the eye of law.

Further, the Court noted that ACR of the petitioner were filled by the Reviewing Officer and not by the Reporting Officer who was not competent to fill the same, hence opined that such adverse entries in such ACR were not valid as per the APAR instructions.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the writ petition and thus, quashed and expunged the adverse entries made in the petitioner's ACR for the period 1-04-2005 to 16-12-2005.

[Jagdish Prasad v. State of Rajasthan, 2023 SCC OnLine Raj 1288, order dated 25-07-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Sandeep Saxena, Advocate

For the Respondents: P.S. Naruka, Advocate for Rupin Kala, Govt. Counsel

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