Madhya Pradesh High Court

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In a writ petition against the withholding of petitioner’s promotion due to the pendency of a criminal case in a sealed cover envelope, resulting in his juniors being promoted ahead of him, a single-judge bench comprising of Vivek Agarwal, J., while allowing the petition, directed to open the sealed cover and proceed with promotion consideration, subject to the outcome of the pending criminal case against the petitioner.

In the instant matter, the petitioner, was employed as a Sub Inspector in the Civil Police Department in Jaunpur. An FIR was lodged against three individuals, not including the petitioner, under Sections 302, 201, and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) at the Jaunpur Police Station. However, in the subsequent chargesheet submitted in 1999, the petitioner was also implicated under Sections 217, 218, 201, and 120-B of the IPC. The petitioner filed an application under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) seeking intervention from the High Court, which resulted in the stay of further proceedings. During the pendency of the criminal proceedings, the petitioner received an out-of-turn promotion to the position of Inspector in 2006 and was considered for promotion to Deputy Superintendent of Police in 2018. However, due to the ongoing criminal case, his promotion was deferred, and his name was kept in a sealed cover envelope, resulting in his juniors being promoted ahead of him. The petitioner argued that his case was similar to that of in precedent Neeraj Kumar Pandey v. State of U.P., Writ A No. 8151 of 2022, order dated 26-05-2022 where the court directed the opening of sealed cover envelopes for promotion consideration under analogous circumstances. The main issue in the present matter is whether the petitioner’s case, wherein his promotion was withheld due to the pendency of a criminal case, is comparable to precedents set by the High Court and whether the sealing of his promotion case is justifiable.

The Court, considering the precedent in Umesh Pratap Singh v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine All 637, and similar cases, held that the petitioner’s promotion case should not have been kept under a sealed cover merely due to the pendency of a criminal case, especially one pending for almost 28 years. The Court directed the opening of the sealed cover and ordered that if the petitioner is found fit for promotion as per the recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committee, the recommendations should be acted upon. However, the promotion granted would be subject to the outcome of the pending criminal case. The Court granted a timeframe of 60 days for completing this process from the date of communication of the order.

[Vijay Kumar Punj v. State of M.P., 2024 SCC OnLine MP 1710, order dated 14-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Shri Manoj Kumar Chansoriya, Counsel for the Petitioner

Shri Manas Mani Verma, Government Advocate, Counsel for the Respondents

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