New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that adverse remarks in the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) is an appropriate ground for denial of promotion and refusing extension in service to judges.
A bench of Justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale said no fault can be found with the higher judicial authorities or the High Court if the promotion under merit-cum seniority is denied on the grounds of adverse ACRs.
"The remarks in ACRs do enable the authority to assess comparative merit once the question of promotion arises when the criteria for promotion is merit-cum-seniority," the apex court said.
The bench passed the judgement dismissing the appeal of NC Das, a member of Tripura Judicial Service (Grade II), who was holding the post of Civil Judge (Senior Division) and Assistant Sessions Judge, North Tripura.
Das had termed denial of his promotion and retirement at the age of 58 years instead of the superannuation age of 60 years as illegal and contrary to rules.
The apex court noted that in Das`s ACR of the year 2000, it has been recorded that he was not yet fit for promotion and similar remarks were been recorded in 2001 and 2002 ACRs.
"Thus, in last three years immediately preceding the date of consideration of the petitioner`s case for promotion, his ACRs show that he was not found fit for promotion.
"Based on the remarks in the ACRs of 2000, 2001 and 2002 if the petitioner has been denied promotion in July 2003, such action can hardly be faulted," the apex court said.
The apex court further said the Gauhati High Court had rightly held that Das was not entitled to continue till the age of 60 years and had retired him at 58 years.
The High Court was satisfied that the extension of the petitioner`s services up to the age of 60 years did not deserve to be recommended.
"A bare perusal of the Clause (B) of amended Rule 20 leaves no manner of doubt that the High Court is empowered to assess and evaluate the record of a judicial officer for continued utility in service up to 60 years," the bench said.