A Supreme Court Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar has set aside the proceedings of a Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) of the Manipur High Court while holding that communicating the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) without providing sufficient time to an employee for challenging the assessment of their performance would be treated as non-communication of the evaluation report.

Senior Advocate Bala Subramaniam appeared for the petitioner, while Counsel Maibam Nabaghanashyam Singh appeared for the Manipur High Court.

In this case, the petitioner preferred a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, praying for an order to set aside the DPC communication denying her promotion to the post of Assistant Registrar and directing the respondents to hold the procedure afresh.

On hearing the arguments, the Court noted that "It is not in dispute and cannot be disputed that for the post of promotion to the Assistant Registrar the ACRs of preceding four years from the date of DPC were required to be taken into consideration. Therefore, in the present case the ACRs for the period between 2016- 2017 to 2019-2020 were required to be taken into consideration and in fact taken into consideration. As observed hereinabove out of 100 marks ACR weightage was of 80 marks. In the present case the petitioner got “Good” gradings for the year 2016-17 and received “Very Good” gradings in her ACRs for the years 2017-18 and 2018-2019. It was the specific case on behalf of the petitioner which has not been denied that the ACRs grading of “Good” for the year 2016-17 was never communicated to the petitioner even till the DPC met."

In light of the same, the Court concluded that the uncommunicated ACR for the year 2016-17 having the grading “Good” could not have been relied upon for consideration for promotion.

The Court was of the considered opinion that "as the ACR Grading of “Good” for the year 2016-17 was not communicated till the DPC met, the same is to be ignored and/ or be not relied upon for consideration of promotion. Similarly, the grading for the year 2019-2020 also is to be excluded and/or be not relied upon for consideration for promotion as the same was communicated on 08.04.2021 and the petitioner was granted 15 days’ time to make representation and before the representation could be made the DPC met on 09.04.2021 and considered the case of the petitioner for promotion."

Referring to the counter submitted by the High Court, the Apex Court observed that "the grading in the ACRs and information with respect to such grading was not provided and/or made available to the Hon’ble Judges conducting the interviews. The aforesaid is absolutely erroneous. As observed and held hereinabove the ACR weightage was to be given of 80 marks and therefore the ACRs gradings which carry a bigger portion of marks i.e., 80 marks out of 100 marks ought to have been taken into consideration by the High Court."

Consequently, the Court held that the case of the petitioner for promotion to the post of Assistant Registrar was required to be considered afresh ignoring the uncommunicated ACRs for the years 2016-17 and 2019-20. It was further held that her case was required to be considered afresh taking into consideration the ACRs for the years 2017-18 & 2018-19 for which the petitioner had “Very Good” gradings.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Writ Petition.

Cause Title: R.K. Jibanlata Devi v. High Court of Manipur through its Registrar General & Ors.

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