Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 – Section 19 – Reporting or Reviewing Officer – Adverse Remarks recorded in ACR – The allegations made by the applicant in this case against Reporting Officer and Reviewing Authority are of sweeping in nature and do not require any investigation on the issue for the reason that same are not specific and fall short of making any inquiry in this regard.
Reporting or Reviewing Officer
CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL CHANDIGARH BENCH
CORAM: HONBLE MR. SANJEEV KAUSHIK, MEMBER (J)
O.A No. 060/00296/2014
Date of decision: 26.05.2016
Jaswinder Singh S/o Sh. Karam Singh, aged 57 years, presently working as Post Master General (B&M), Rajasthan Circle, Jaipur-302007. APPLICANT BY ADVOCATE: Mr. Dhiraj Chawla VERSUS Union of India through the Secretary, Ministry of Communications & I.T. Department of Posts, Dak Bhawan, New Delhi-110116. RESPONDENTS BY ADVOCATE: Sh. Ram Lal Gupta
HONBLE MR. SANJEEV KAUSHIK, MEMBER (J):-
1. The applicant has filed this Original Application under
Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985
seeking the following relief :-
(i) To set aside the impugned order/O.M. dated 25-10-2013 (Annexure A-1) whereby the Representation of the applicant dated 27-1-2010 (Annexure A-8) against the adverse remarks, recorded in his ACR for the period 1-4-2009 to 30-9-2009 (Annexure A-9) has been rejected by skeletal and cryptic order.
(ii) To further set aside & quash the ACR for the period 01-4-2009 to 30-9-2009 (Annexure A-7) being arbitrary, perverse, motivated & outcome of bias, prejudice and mala-fide on the part of the Reporting Officer who was the then Chief Post Master General, Punjab Circle & prejudice and non application f mind on the part of Reviewing Authority.
2. The facts leading to the filing of this Original Application are that the applicant is a Group A officer of 1980 batch of Indian Postal Service and is posted as Post Master General, Jaipur. He worked in Chandigarh as PMG w.e.f. March, 2007 and was transferred to Mumbai w.e.f. 16.2.2011 and to Jaipur w.e.f. 7.2.2013. At no point of time any adverse remarks were endorsed by any Reporting or Reviewing Officer in any of his ACRs from 1982 till 2008-09. In March, 2007, he was posted in Punjab Region, Chandigarh as PMG and continued till 2011 when he was sent to Jaipur. Mr. P.R. Kumar was Chief PMG when applicant was working from 15.5.2008 to 30.9.2009. Reporting officer retired on 30.9.2009. During this period RO wrote two ACRs one from 15.4.2008 to 31.3.2009 and another from 1.4.2009 to 31.9.2009 and in both these ACRs, the Reviewing Authority was also same i.e. Ms. Radhika Doraiswamy, former Secretary Posts., During his ACR for the period 15.5.2008 to 31.3.2009, Reporting Officer found his work quite well and awarded his Very Good.. The Review Authority (Ms. Radhika Doraiswamy) agreed with the same. However, it is only for the period from 1.4.2009 to 30.9.2009 that adverse remarks were recorded in his ACRs out of prejudice towards the applicant. He claims that Reporting Officer was to retire on 30.9.2009 and abundant funds related to Project Arrow started flowing from department in April-June, 2009, he tried to centralize all funds in his hands also related expenditure with obvious aim and motive of making monetary gain and when applicant resisted, he became revengeful and gave totally colourless and damaging assessment of excellent performance of the applicant during the period of this report., He even tried to abolish the post held by the applicant. Within a short period, performance of an officer cannot deteriorate. Nothing has happened, yet the Reporting Officer recorded all the adverse remarks in the ACR for the said period in a fit of anger and revengeful attitude. Effort was also made to redesignate the post of PMG to humiliate the applicant. The applicant submitted a representation dated 27.8.2009 against high handedness and arbitrariness of Reporting Officer but to no avail and Reviewing Authority uphold adverse / below bench mark marks. Vide OM dated 27.8.2009 (A-4) the applicant was asked to give his comments on Report sent by the Reporting Officer. He submitted a reply to the same on 9.9.2009 (A-5) along with 24 Annexures. Though for the period 15.5.2008 to 31.3.2009, he has been branded as Very Good but for the period 1.4.2009 to 30.9.2009, he becomes Good only where adverse comments have been made against health also consciously as it will make him ineligible or the next grade. A complaint of sexual harassment was also mentioned in the ACR by Reviewing Officer, though review was not made within one month, as per extant instructions. The entry was made without making proper enquiry. Though she herself agreed with applicant being Very Good for the preceding period on 4.1.2010. The adverse remarks were conveyed to applicant vide letter dated 14.1.2010 against which he made representations demolishing the remarks made therein, to the President of India, being appointing authority of a Group A Officer. The Member (Personnel) made adverse comments on remarks made by Reporting Officer but the Reviewing Authority maintained her comments made in note dated 28.6.2010. However, the Secretary Post (Reviewing Authority) was able to convince the Minister to approve remarks of Reviewing Authority. She could not be allowed to have any rule as it would amount to having a judge over own decisions. The Minister for Communications & I.T. mechanically accepted the view of Reporting Officer and Reviewing Officer, without mention as to whether he accepts or otherwise. The applicant submitted a memorial dated 1.1.2010 to the President of India. He then filed O.A.No. 1155 of 2011 to quash order dated 15.7.2010 (A-1) vide which his representation against adverse / below bench mark ACR was rejected and below bench mark ACRs etc. which was disposed of on 1.11.2011 to decide the memorial of the applicant. C.P. No. 140 of 2012 was also filed upon which a communication dated 90.8.2012 was issued indicating that Memorial was not maintainable. The C.P. was, thus, dismissed. Then applicant filed O.A.No. 916-CH-2011 which set aside order dated 15.7.2010 with direction to the competent authority to re-consider the representation, vide orders dated 26.7.2013. However, vide letter / order dated 25.10.2013, the plea of the applicant has been declined. By use of RTI Act, 2005, he obtained photocopies of noting sheet which indicate that a DDG (P) had made complete note adverse to the claim of the applicant to reject his representation. The remarks of Reporting Officer were not called as he had retired but remarks of Reviewing Officer were called which are quoted extensively, though she too had retired in 2011. He claims that such consideration was only in the nature of formality. He claims that the shortfall in the achievement of targets is nature consequences as targets cannot be achieved to the tune of 100%. The achievements made by the applicant were never challenged. The issue of one or two days casual leave has been blown off out of proportion. Casual leave is treated as a duty. There is no procedure for applying casual leave in advance. In any case he had given intimation through email in advance which has not been denied by any one. The remarks based on Memorandum of Services cannot be sustained as it would amount to violation of principles of natural justice, as it is maintained secretly and Reporting Officer has manipulative powers to destroy career of an officer at whims and fancies. There is no mention in DoPT Compendium relating to ACRS of Group A I.P.S Officers.
3. The respondents have filed a reply in which it is submitted that the application is full of malicious allegations of arbitrariness and harassment made against the assessment of Reporting and Reviewing Officer in the APAR. In pursuance of DOPT instructions dated 14.5.2009, the below bench remarks were conveyed to the applicant for making a representation which was considered and rejected by competent authority vide order dated 15.7.2010 as per procedure laid down in instructions of DoPT issued on 14.5.2009 taking into account comments of Reviewing Officer and other relevant material available in the case., The Reporting Officer has indicated that the applicant did not carry out monitoring activities and not attended the inauguration of the Jalandhar HO or the other Project Arrow offices as ordered by the Chief PMG. He has not achieved his revenue targets. He has shown incorrect achievement in his self appraisal. He objected that there are no separate targets assigned to him. However, CPMG Punjab Circle has assigned targets for each Division under the applicant / PMG and it was upto him to motivate / take steps for the Divisions to achieve the targets. In memo of services, CPMG had been monitoring these targets. The Reporting officer had recorded many observations about applicants lack of interest in Project Arrow, which was communicated to him through a number of letter throughout the period. Thus, comments are based on working of the applicant. The Reviewing officer has also taken views on the issue in letter dated 27.8.2009 related to the applicant and highlighted his observation in examining the representation of the officer. The then CPMG Punjab Circle, had made a complaint against the applicant. He was given an opportunity explain his conduct. He submitted his defence vie letter dated 9.9.2009. However, the CPMG who made complaint retired on 30.9.2009 and as such matter was dropped midway. The Reporting Officer has made his remarks on the overall performance of the applicant during the relevant period and not on the basis of issues raised by him in his complaint against the applicant. He has clearly mentioned that knowledge and performance of the applicant is good, by and large, which requires more focus. He did not follow many instructions and lacked punctuality in attendance and his conduct and discipline needs improvement. The applicant suffers from back pain, which has been mentioned as a matter of fact only and not out of any ill motive. As per Rule 174 (7) and 174 (9) of Postal Manual The memo of services should invariably be consulted at the time of writing the annual report through the report itself should necessarily be based on the employees performance during the year as a whole. Thus, Reporting Officer had written his remarks taking into account the instructions on the subject. Abolition of a post is a policy mater. The representation of the applicant has been rejected as per the rules and instructions. If a representation is rejected by Minister-in-Charge, no memorial would lie to the President as per instructions of DoPT dated 6.3.1989. Thus, memorial was not maintainable. The respondents have also filed two affidavits along with documents supporting the remarks by Reporting Officer in regard to irregular claim of LTC by the applicant; instructions regarding visit to Project Arrow Post Offices; Sexual harassment case of a lady and instructions regarding attending the video conferences.
4. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length and perused the material on file.
5. Learned counsel for the applicant placed reliance on decision of Apex Court in