ITBP commandant acted with bias against subordinate, says HC; orders review DPC to consider promotion of junior

Chiding a now dismissed ITBP commandant for showing “extreme bias” and “vindictiveness” towards his junior, the Delhi High Court has ordered the paramilitary force to hold a review meeting of the Departmental

Promotion Committee (DPC) to consider the promotion of a subordinate officer who has an “outstanding” record.

Observing that superior officers are expected to demonstrate leadership and should be a guide and mentor to subordinate officers, the high court said the conduct of the commandant reeked of vindictiveness and malice towards the subordinate officer, an assistant commandant.

“Before concluding, we hereby advise all the concerned that while taking action against any subordinate officer/ personnel, it has to be borne in mind that no one is above law and if such orders are challenged before the court, the court certainly will not hesitate to take action against the erring officer,” a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said.

The high court said a copy of the judgment be circulated to the Directors General of all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) for information and advice.

The high court passed the order on a plea by an Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) assistant commandant seeking quashing of the Annual Performance Assessment Report (APAR) for the period between June 19, 2014 and November 8, 2014. The petition also sought a review of the decision of not promoting him to the rank of deputy commandant with all consequential benefits.

The bench allowed the petition, saying it does not find any justification for the adverse remarks made in the APAR for the period between June 2014 and November 2014, and ordered that they be expunged.

“A direction is also issued to the respondents to conduct a review DPC to consider the case of the petitioner for promotion to the rank of the Deputy Commandant and, if found fit, to grant him the promotion from the date his immediate juniors were promoted, with all consequential benefits,” it said.

The petitioner said despite having an outstanding career graph, his entire professional enterprise and initiative was marginalised and his career profile was downgraded in the APAR by his superior without any cause.

He said according to the APAR for the relevant period, he got an overall numerical grading of 0′ (zero), despite having earned the appreciation of the appraisal officers.

The petitioner submitted he had filed a written complaint against the commandant with the Director General of ITBP mentioning some corruption charges and requested for an enquiry against him, something which annoyed the superior officer due to which he became “prejudiced and inimical” towards him.

The high court said when the petitioner was having a “very good/outstanding” APAR for the previous and subsequent periods, it left one perplexed as to what were the circumstances that led to the assistant commandant getting a ‘0’ (zero) grading in the APAR of five months.

“The alleged instances neither reflected any dereliction of duty nor any insubordination towards the reporting officer, prompting such downgrading of APAR. The extraneous circumstances like the complaint by the petitioner against (commandant) inducing a bias in recording the APAR, is self evident,” it said.

The bench observed that while the significance of APAR in career progression can never be over emphasised, such whimsical conduct by those who are members of a disciplined force is difficult to comprehend.

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“The members of the force face extremely challenging situations in the face of extreme adversity and their survival is only in their camaraderie and being together. Such hierarchical personal animosity as evident from this intermediate APAR of five months, is not only a morale dampener for a competent officer but is detrimental to the entire force,” it said.

The bench said it was compelled to observe that the commandant has acted with extreme bias and not even stopped from preparing documents or memos with the sole objective to ruin the career of the petitioner who has been deprived of the promotion that he deserved.

“However, we refrain ourselves from recommending any action against . (commandant) considering that he has already been dismissed from the service, it said.

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