Allahabad High Court disposes of petition over denial of promotion
The Allahabad High Court while disposing the petition observed that the mere pendency of the criminal case cannot be taken as a ground to deny the promotion to the petitioner nor can the Competent Authority withhold the recommendation of the petitioner indefinitely on the ground of adopting sealed cover procedure during pendency of the criminal case.
A single-judge bench of Justice Jaspreet Singh passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Ranbir Singh.
The petitioner prayed for the following reliefs which read as under:-
‘(i) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondents to grant promotion to the petitioner to the post of Deputy Collector w.e.f 23.08.2018, to which the officers junior to petitioner were promoted.
(ii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondents to grant him all consequential benefits admissible to him.’
The submission of the Senior Counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner joined the services of the State of Uttar Pradesh as Nayab Tehsildar in 1996.
Considering his service record, he was promoted as Tehsildar on 30.08.2013. The petitioner has rendered more than 22 years of service and has been an outstanding officer as reflected from his service records.
It has further been submitted that as per the prescribed procedure for promotion from the post of Tehsildar to the post of Deputy Collector, a report is prepared and sent by the Board of Revenue to the Appointments and Personnel Department, Government of UP which in turn forwards the same to the State Public Service Commission and thereafter the proposal is placed before the Departmental Promotion Committee constituted by the Public Service Commission. The recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committee and the Public Service Commission culminate in the promotion orders as issued by the Department concerned.
It is urged that in this case, a meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee to consider the promotion of Tehsildars to Deputy Collector was held on 02.08.2018 and 03.08.2018 at the level of Public Service Commission. The petitioner was eligible at the relevant time for being considered for promotion to the post of Deputy Collector and accordingly the name of the petitioner was also in the list at Serial No 120 which was part of the proposal.
On 23.08.2018, the recommendation made by the DPC and the Public Service Commission released the list of Tehsildars promoted to the post of Deputy Collector, however, shocking the petitioner, his name did not find place in the said list. Upon making inquiries, it was informed that the petitioner’s case has been withheld and has been put in a sealed cover as the petitioner was suspended on 01.08.2018 i.e the date before the meeting of the DPC, although, no charge sheet against the petitioner on the date of the meeting of the DPC was served.
It has further been submitted that on the basis of a frivolous complaint, the petitioner had been placed under suspension in respect of same allegations made to the Chairman of Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority in respect of certain purchase of 57.149 hectares of land for the development by the Authority in District Mathura.
It is also submitted that though the petitioner was suspended, the departmental charge sheet was served on the petitioner only on 15.03.2021 i.e after more than two-and-a-half years and that too in compliance of the order dated 06.08.2021 passed by the Court.
It is also pointed out that in respect of same allegations for which the departmental charge sheet was issued, criminal proceedings were also initiated on 25.09.2019 in the Court of Special Judge, Meerut where the petitioner was enlarged on bail on 31.10.2019 and though the trial is still pending and out of 27 witnesses only one witness has been examined.
The crux of the submission of Senior Counsel for the petitioner is that in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Union of India and others Vs K.V Jankiraman and others reported in (1991) 4 SCC 109 which has been followed by the Court in the case of Neeraj Kumar Pandey Vs State of U.P and others in Writ-A No 8151 of 2022 decided on 26.05.2022, the respondent-authorities are not justified in keeping the matter of the petitioner pending.
The persons junior to the petitioner have been promoted and only on the basis of the case which is pending against the petitioner, his case has been placed under sealed cover and even though the criminal trial may take time, yet, the promotion of the petitioner cannot be deferred or kept in abeyance indefinitely. In view of the aforesaid, it is submitted that the writ petition deserves to be allowed.
The counsel for the State-respondents while refuting the aforesaid submissions has urged that the petitioner was involved in serious irregularities and for the aforesaid reasons was suspended on 01.08.2018.
It is also urged that the petitioner has also been involved and implicated in criminal proceedings where the CBI has been given approval for prosecution.
It has also been pointed out that apart from the aforesaid, permission has also been given for prosecuting the petitioner and as such the case of the petitioner is squarely covered in terms of the Government Order dated 28.05.1997 and therefore it cannot be said that keeping the recommendations of the petitioner in sealed cover is bad in law, accordingly, the petition deserves to be dismissed.
It has also been urged that filing of a chargesheet subsequent to the date of DPC may not have any adverse impact as the date when the case of the petitioner was to be considered by the DPC is of importance and on that day no proceedings were pending. The emphasis is that even the Government Order which is relied upon by the respondent-State does not create any impediment as on the date of the DPC, there was no criminal proceedings or the charge sheet was issued nor the departmental proceedings were pending. It is thus submitted that the petitioner has been deprived and by keeping the matter pending, the illegality is being perpetuated.
The Court observed it is not disputed that on the given date i.e 02.08.2018, no departmental proceedings were pending against the petitioner nor the criminal proceedings. It is also not disputed that the charge sheet in the departmental proceedings was served on the petitioner on 15.03.2021 and in the criminal proceedings, the charge sheet was filed on 25.09.2018 i.e subsequent to the date of DPC.
Having considered the aforesaid submissions and the dictum of the Apex Court in the case of K.V. Janakiraman (supra) and the Court in the case of Km Maya (Supra), the fact that irrespective of the pendency of the criminal case, the petitioner has continued to serve and mere pendency of the criminal case cannot be taken as a ground to deny the promotion to the petitioner nor the Competent Authority can withhold the recommendation of the petitioner indefinitely on the ground of adopting the sealed cover procedure during the pendency of the criminal case. It is also relevant to notice that the respondent authorities are also required to take note of the Government Orders dated 28.05.1997 and 09.01.2018 which apparently have not been taken note of.
Accordingly, in view of the aforesaid, the Court disposed of the petition with a direction to the Competent Authority to consider the claim of the petitioner for opening the sealed cover within a period of eight weeks from the date, a copy of this order is placed before the Authority concerned in light of the observations made herein above taking note of the decisions of the Apex Court in the case of K.V. Jankiraman (supra), Km Maya (Supra) as well as the two Government Orders dated 28.05.1997 and 09.01.2018.