Every citizen has the right occupy public office; however, it must be done so only when the that right is rightfully obtained. This was held in the judgment passed by a two-judge bench comprising HON’BLE JUSTICE MR. JUSTICE MANMOHAN and MR. JUSTICE NAVIN CHAWLA, in the matter of LT. COL. KIRTI SHINTRE V. UNION OF INDIA AND ANR [W.P.(C) 9633/2021 & C.M.Nos.29776-29777/2021], dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed a petition challenging the interim order dated 27th August 2021 passed by the Armed Forces Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi [AFT]. Petitioners also seek a direction to the Respondents not to release the Petitioners from service on 12th September, 2021.
The counsel for the petitioners stated that the AFT has by way of an evasive order rejected the prayer of the petitioners for staying the operation of release order dated 15th July, 2021 vide which the petitioners have been ordered to be released on 12th September, 2021. He stated that the AFT has fixed the next date of hearing on 27th September, 2021 and if stay on release is not granted by this Court, the petitioners will be released from service on 12th September, 2021.
Counsel for the petitioners stated that the AFT erred in not appreciating that out of 615 Women Officers, who were considered for Permanent Commission by Special Selection Board No.5, only fifteen women officers, who opted for Permanent Commission, have secured less than 60% marks. He contends that all women officers who could not secure 60% marks, are senior officers, whose first five years of service fell between the years 1999 and 2005 i.e. when Unit Assessment Card (UAC) Appraisal System was in force.
He stated that efficiency of UAC Appraisal System in judging an officer for Permanent Commission was suspected even by the respondents and consequently the said appraisal System was dispensed with vide letter dated 22nd September, 2005 and Annual Confidential Report (ACR) based appraisal system was introduced. He emphasised that no women officer, whose ACRs were only taken into account by the Special Selection Board No.5, has secured less than 60% marks. He further emphasised that fifteen women officers could not secure 60% marks due to inefficient and defective UAC appraisal System and contends that all UAC affected women officers being in highly disadvantageous position are a distinct class. He stated that all UAC affected women officers are therefore entitled to differential treatment and for them benchmark ought to be much lower than 60%.
After hearing both the parties The Hon’ble Delhi High Court dismissed the petition and held that This Court cannot lose sight of the fact that many short service commission officers may have been selected to permanent commission on the basis of the marks obtained by them in UAC appraisal system. It cannot be that, in the interim, the UAC appraisal system is disregarded for petitioners and taken into account for promoting other candidates. It also held that if the UAC appraisal system is to be disregarded for petitioners for the period 1999-2005, then it is not understood as to what marking system is to replace it in the interregnum.