Title: RAJDEEP CHOWDHARY Versus UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.
Reserved on: April 25, 2023
Pronounced on: July 14, 2023
+ W.P.(C) 8135/2019
CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SURESH KUMAR KAIT
HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE NEENA BANSAL KRISHNA
Delhi High Court set aside the Show cause notice and allowed the writ of mandamus directing the promotion of petitioner to the post of Deputy Commandant, if found eligible.
Facts of the case
The petitioner asserts that while employed by the 66th Battalion of the BSF as Assistant Company Commandant, he was also administratively searching for two more platoon jobs. An FIR with the number 306/2012, under Sections 8/221/29/25 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) was filed in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan on August 8, 2012, alleging the arrest of four civilians in Jaisalmer City with 8 kg of heroin and $4.35 million in Indian currency that had been smuggled from Pakistan during the previous night of August 4, 2012, to August 5, 2012.
Inspector General (IG) (Head Quarter), BSF, Jodhpur directed a staff court of inquiry to look into how the heroin entered the specified region. Nothing indicated any carelessness or laziness on the part of those in charge.
The Deputy Inspector General (DIG) SHQ, BSF advised the IG (HQ) that the investigation was finished and that no one should be held accountable until the investigation is over or the incidence has been verified by the police in light of the aforementioned inquiry report dated 6.11.2012.
The IG (HQ) on 30.05.2013 advised action against the petitioner for his involvement in failing in appropriate dominance, disregarding the report dated 06.11.2012 and suggestion of the DIG (SHQ) dated 10.12.2012. The petitioner herein was one of six BSF employees who were subject to the disciplinary process, and the DIG, BSF, recorded evidence against them on December 14, 2013.
After reviewing the material, the relevant DIG wrote his observations dated 09.04.2015 and noted that there was no evidence to support the accusation brought against the petitioner.
In the current appeal, the petitioner expresses his unhappiness about receiving a show cause notice from the DIG on May 12, 2016, even though the DG had already made the statements indicated above on April 9, 2015.
Analysis of the court
This Court notes that a staff court of inquiry was launched against the petitioner and other BSF officials in response to the filing of FIR No. 306/2012 under Sections 8/221/29/25 of the NDPS Act, and in an opinion dated November 6, 2012, it was determined that no one in charge acted carelessly or laxly.
Being dissatisfied with the recommendations, the IG recommended action against the petitioner and ROE and Addl. ROE were recorded. Although the petitioner was advised to be dismissed for the relevant offence in the Court of Enquiry dated 10.12.2012 and Recommendations dated 09.04.2015, he was still served with a Show Cause Notice dated 12.5.2016 for a preliminary intended transfer of the DG’s dissatisfaction. The petitioner submitted a response on May 18, 2016, in response to the aforementioned Show Cause Notice from May 12, 2016, and on June 24, 2016, he submitted a request asking for a promotion from April 1, 2014. However, the petitioner’s 18 May 2016 reply to the aforementioned Show Cause Notice of 12 May 2016 was denied by decision dated 22 July 2017 and he was informed of the DG’s “Displeasure”.
Now, the issue that has to be decided by this Court is whether the petitioner may be denied the promotion owing to the DG’s “displeasure”, especially after the case brought against him has been recommended to be dropped. This Court has reviewed the Minutes of DPC Meeting dated 19.02.2014 and 19.02.2015, where the “pendency of ROE” and not “displeasure” is cited as the grounds for continuing the petitioner’s case.
The petitioner bases his argument on the ruling in O.P. Nimesh (Supra), in which the petitioner, a DIG (Medical) in the BSF, requested promotion to the rank of IG (Medical) effective the day his subordinate received promotions. In the aforementioned matter, this Court made notice of two reasons for consideration: first, the DPC had indicated that the petitioner had received two grades below benchmark in the DPC’s APAR for the year 2012–2013; second, the DG’s “displeasure” statement was also cited in detail.
Both the petitioner in O.P. Nimesh (Supra) and the petitioner in front of this court have cited an OM from the Ministry of Home Affairs dated March 27, 2015, which states that “displeasure” is not a penalty stated in Rule 11 of the CCS (CCA) Rules.
In O.P. Nimesh (Supra), this Court held that “displeasure” was not a barrier to the petitioner’s promotion there and ordered the respondents to hold a review DPC and evaluate the petitioner’s case in accordance with the rules because the aforementioned OM dated 27.03.2015 had already been notified when DPC in the said case was held on 15.07.2015.
In our perspective, the petitioner was originally given the all-clear in 2012 itself. However, disciplinary process against the petitioner started on June 8, 2013, and the DIG made statements stating on April 9, 2015 that there was no proof shown against the petitioner based on the evidence presented. Reading through copies of the minutes from the DPC meetings on 19.02.2014 and 19.02.2015 reveals that his case was not taken into consideration for promotion because of the phrase “Due to pending ROE.”
Relevantly, the petitioner received the DG’s “displeasure” via a show cause notice from the DIG on 12.05.2016. In his reply on 05.06.2016 to the aforementioned Show Cause Notice from 12.05.2016, the petitioner conveyed the DG that there was no direct or indirect implication against him in the FIR in question. However, vide order dated 22.07.2016, the DIG rejected petitioners request dated 24.06.2016 conveying him DG’s “displeasure”.
The OM dated 27.03.2015, which specifies that “displeasure” is not a penalty stated in Rule11 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, has previously been made known. Moreover, “displeasure” has not been recorded against the name of the petitioner in the minutes of meetings that were conducted on February 19 and 20, 2014 and 2015, respectively. Additionally, respondents have not proven that the petitioner’s APARs in 2014 and 2015 fell short of the benchmark, which would have prevented him from being promoted.
The DPC played a significant role in assessing the cases of applicants for promotion, as observed by the Honourable Supreme Court and this Court in a number of rulings. A applicant’s overall effort, performance, and assiduity must also be taken into consideration in addition to the APARs for the pertinent years, particularly when a candidate is being overlooked while his or her juniors are receiving promotions.
In our considered opinion, petitioner case stood deferred for promotion in the years 2014 and 2015 due to pendency of ROE and having been given clean chit, he deserves to get promotion from the date it actually became due to him.
In view of above-said, the present petition is allowed. In the light of OM dated 27.03.2015, the Show Cause Notice dated 12.05.2016 and order dated 22.07.2016 conveying “displeasure” by the respondents, are set aside. Naturally, if the petitioner meets the requirements, he will be elevated from Assistant Commandant to Deputy Commandant with effect from April 1, 2014, the date his juniors were promoted, and will get all related perks.
“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”
Written By – Shreyanshu Gupta
Click to view judgement