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Delhi High CourtIndian Cases

Shri Asseem Paul vs Uco Bank on 26 July 2006

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Delhi High Court
Shri Asseem Paul vs Uco Bank on 26 July, 2006
Equivalent citations: 132(2006)DLT460
Author: Manju Goel
Bench: Manju Goel
JUDGMENT

Manju Goel, J.

1. This writ petition challenges the non-promotion of the petitioner for several years. The petitioner joined the respondent bank on 2.1.1974 as a Probationary Officer and is now working as Chief Officer (Inspection-Mobile) since October, 2001 which is a Grade Scale-IV post. He is aspiring to be promoted to Grade Scale-V since 2001. He challenges denial of his promotion in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The respondent bank has framed UCO Bank (Officers’) Service Regulations, 1979 under Section 19 read with Section 12(2) of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970. Chapter IV of these Regulations deal with appointment, probation, confirmation, promotion, seniority and termination. Regulation 14 in this Chapter prescribes that all appointments in and promotions to the officer grade shall be made by the competent authority in the light of the guidelines of the Government, if any. Promotions are further dealt with in Regulation 17 which says that promotions to all grades of officers in the bank shall be made in accordance with the policy laid down by the Board from time to time having regard to the guidelines of the Government, if any. Guidelines issued by the Government are Annexure-5. Annexure-5, inter alia, gives the Committee responsibility for deciding the promotion of an officer. Item No.4 deals with promotion from the Senior Management Grade Scale IV to Senior Management Grade Scale V. The Committee for this is comprised of Chairman & Managing Director, the Executive Director and one General Manager.

2. The promotion policy for officers has been published by the respondent bank. This also has been framed in terms of Regulation 17 of the UCO Bank (Officers’) Service Regulations, 1979. The relevant provision are as under:

Paragraph 1.13 provides that the potential of the officers for shouldering higher responsibilities in the bank is sought to be assessed through a process of interview. For promotions to Senior Management Grade Scales IV and V group discussions will be held apart from the interview. By an amendment in July, 2002 the requirement of group discussion has been done away with. The eligibility conditions prescribed for promotion from Senior Management Grade Scale-IV to Senior Management Grade Scale-V is three years of satisfactory service in Senior Management Grade Scale-IV.
Paragraph 6.1 prescribes that the number of officers to be called for participation in the promotion process will normally be three to four times the vacancies identified inclusive of superseded officers of the earlier promotion process. Before withdrawal of group discussion distribution of marks for assessing suitability of an officer for promotion is given as, For performance 60, Total = 150.
After group discussion is given up, the distribution of marks is
For performance 60; and
For interview 40.
——

For assessing the performance the following practice has been observed by the bank. The annual performance appraisal report or the PAR is recorded on a prescribed form. The first part of the form is filled by the Appraisee Officer which he is required to do objectively and as far as possible with facts and figures. The reporting officer is thereafter required to give his assessment of the appraisee. The reviewing authority then makes his own assessment and records the same in the same form. Another circular of the bank dated 18.10.1997, inter alia, prescribes that officers working in branches should submit their PAR to the Branch Manager, officers working in the Regional Offices & Zonal Offices to the concerned Regional Manager/Zonal Manager and officers working in the Head Office/Administrative Office to Department Head, Branch Manager to Regional/Zonal Manager, Regional Manager to Zonal Manager, Zonal Manager to General Manager (Operation) and General Manager & Dy. General Manager working in the head office to Executive Director.
3. The petitioner became eligible for consideration in the year 2001 after he had put in three years of service in Scale-IV. Since the three years performance has to be examined his PAR for 1999, 2000 & 2001 was required to be considered. The petitioner’s grievance for his non-promotion in the year 2001 relates to the assessment done by Mr. P.K. Dutta who was his reporting officer. The objection is that Mr. P.K. Dutta was also an officer of Scale-IV and himself a candidate for promotion to Scale-V and as such a competitor and, therefore, was incompetent to report on the performance of the petitioner. Further it is alleged that Mr. P.K. Dutta was not the Reporting Officer for the petitioner at that time.

4. The petitioner has further grievance that in the year 2002 his assessment was done by Mr. J.R. Sharma who was Assistant General Manager in the Regional Office. Ironically he says that for this year Mr. P.K. Dutta who was the Assistant General Manager of the Parliament Street Branch should have reported on his PAR.

5. The respondent has raised a preliminary objection of laches. On merit the counter affidavit says that the petitioner is in no way prejudiced by the assessment done by Mr. P.K. Dutta or by Mr. J.R. Sharma as both of them have awarded higher marks than the marks obtained by the petitioner in the year 1999. On merit it is submitted that the list of Reporting Officer in bank is circulated vide circular No.CHO/POS/20/97 dated 18.10.1997. Further it is submitted that the bank’s appraisal system requires that if the Reporting Officer is transferred recently to the office where the Appraisee Officer is working and the Appraisee Officer has worked under him for less than three months the Reporting Officer may consult other senior officers and raise the performance report. Further the appraisal system provides that if the Appraisee Officer reports to some officer other than his Reporting Officer the Reporting Officer may consult such other officer to whom the Appraisee Officer may be reporting and that thus the flexibility is available to the Reporting Officer before raising the performance appraisal report of an officer. Further it is submitted that the promotion of the officer does not depend entirely on the remarks of the Reporting Officer. The Reviewing Officer and the High Level Committee also assesses the officer and that the marks obtained by the officer in the interview and group discussion (applicable up to 2001 promotion process) are also added to assess the capability of the officer. So far as the competence of Mr. P.K.Dutta, AGM (O) for the period ending 31.3.2000 is concerned the counter affidavit of the respondent says that at the relevant time Mr. P.K. Dutta, AGM (O), Parliament Street Branch being the higher authority was the Reporting Officer. The PAR has to be submitted by the Appraisee Officer to the Reporting Officer. Although the petitioner claims that Mr. A.P. Chandra should have commented on his PAR there is nothing to show that he had submitted his PAR to Mr. Chandra. Similarly the counter affidavit denies that there is any illegality attached to the assessment done by Mr. J.R. Sharma for the year ending 31.3.2000. Giving facts it is stated that the petitioner was posted as Enquiry Officer in the Zonal Office, New Delhi till April, 2000 and thereafter as Chief Officer till 3rd week of September, 2000 and transferred to Parliament Street Branch as the Chief Manager where he worked up to October, 2001. Thus it is pointed out that for good part of the year 2000-01 ending 31.3.2001 the petitioner was working in the Zonal Office where Mr. J.R. Sharma was posted as AGM. Mr. J.R. Sharma also is said to have given the petitioner better marks than the other officers and authorities commenting on his performance.

6. So far as the eligibility of Mr. P.K. Dutta to comment on the appraisal report of the year 2000 is concerned, there is no denial of the fact that Mr. P.K. Dutta at the relevant time was a higher officer. How Mr. A.P. Chandra could have reported on the performance of the petitioner has not been explained. The petitioner himself was required to submit the PAR to the Reporting Officer. In case Mr. P.K.Dutta was not the Reporting Officer he should not have submitted his PAR to Mr. P.K. Dutta and should have submitted his PAR to Mr. Chandra and should have obtained a receipt as provided in the rules. The question, therefore, so far as Mr. P.K. Dutta’s comment for the year 2000 is concerned is only whether Mr. P.K.Dutta should be said to have any prejudice against the petitioner on account of he himself being a candidate for promotion from Grade Scale-IV to Grade Scale-V. The petitioner should have raised this question at the very initial stage when Mr. P.K. Dutta was reporting on his PAR. If the petitioner felt prejudiced in promotion process in question on account of Mr. P.K. Dutta’s reporting on his performance, the petitioner should have immediately assailed the reporting of Mr. P.K. Dutta as the same report was again to be considered in the promotion process of the following two years. It appears that the petitioner did not have a basic grievance that Mr. P.K. Dutta was his competitor or rival and, therefore, prejudiced against him. The rules do not provide for any alternative if the reporting officer is also of the same scale. The petitioner himself also did not report to any authority for taking care of such a situation. Be that as it may, the PAR of the petitioner for the relevant years have been placed before the court in order to show to what extent the petitioner is prejudiced by the assessment of Mr. P.K. Dutta. For the year 2000 Mr. P.K. Dutta assessed the petitioner as `Good’ and awarded him 79 marks whereas in the previous year his Appraiser had given him only 72 marks. The reviewing authority in 1999 gave him only 63 marks whereas the reviewing authority in the year 2000 maintained the appraisal of Mr. P.K. Dutta and maintained 79 marks. For the year 2000 the High Level Committee awarded him 73 marks. For the year 2001 his Appraising Officer gave him 74 marks and the reviewing authorities 75 marks. While Mr. J.R. Sharma assessed him as `Good’ the reviewing authority assessed him as `Average’. The High Level Committee awarded him 70 marks. The appraisal of the subsequent years show a fall. For the year 2002 the Appraiser gave him 57 marks which was concurred with by the reviewing authorities. The High Level Committee gave him 60 marks. So compared to the years 1999 as well as 2002, the appraisal of the petitioner’s performance has been more favorable in the years 2000 & 2001. Neither Mr. P.K. Dutta nor Mr. J.R. Sharma could be accused of any bias.

7. As explained above, Mr. J.R. Sharma was competent to report on the performance of the petitioner for the year 2001. It was he who was likely to have watched the performance of the petitioner more than Mr. P.K. Dutta.

8. At the time of arguments an attempt was made to develop a new ground of failure of the reporting officer and reviewing authority to communicate to the petitioner the marks obtained by him on the PAR. In my opinion, the attempt is futile because it is not a case where the petitioner has fallen below the bench-mark or there has been an adverse comment requiring the same to be communicated to the petitioner. The petitioner has not been given the promotion because others competing for promotion were found to be better by the authorities.

9. At the end it must be said that the petitioner had slept over his rights. The promotion process of 2001 ended with the declaration of results on 4.6.2001. The petitioner filed an appeal against his non-promotion on 16.7.2001 which was decided on 25.2.2002. The petitioner instead of assailing his non-promotion in court again went into fresh promotion process which started in August, 2002 knowing fully well that the previous two assessments of Mr. P.K.Dutta and Mr. J.R.Sharma will again be before the authorities for considering his promotion. Similarly, he also went through the promotion process of 2003 in which the report of Mr. J.R. Sharma of 2001 was relevant.

10. There is, therefore, no good ground for setting aside the promotion process conducted in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed.