Mon. Jan 25th, 2021

Previous adverse remarks of dishonesty not “washed off” by subsequent promotion

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High Court: While dismissing a petition relating to
the promotion of a Grade IV employee, the Court held that the adverse remarks
given earlier related to dishonesty and integrity not washed off by subsequent
promotion in considering suitability for a post which is based on evaluation of
entire record.

In the present case, the petitioner, a
grade IV employee of the RBI was declined a promotion to the post of Assistant
Care Taker in Grade III by the Bank on the ground of being found guilty of
misconduct by a Departmental Inquiry in 1998. He filed a civil writ petition
against his non-promotion before the Court under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India.

The petitioner alleged arbitrariness and
mala fide in the action of the Selection Committee in not considering him for
promotion to the relevant post and also invoked “wash off” theory to contend
that subsequent promotion after the punishment of 1998 washed off the previous
guilt and hence he was eligible for promotion. Besides, the petitioner also
raised the plea of equity and wanted the Court to be sympathetic to him as the
misconduct and subsequent punishment by the Departmental Inquiry of the year
1998 had become stale by then.

The Single Judge bench comprising of Alok
Sharma, J. dismissed the petition and held that it would not, by virtue of
power under Article 226, interfere with the Administrative process except in
the cases of Wednesbury unreasonableness, ex-facie unfairness, bias and mala
fides which, in the present case, were not there since the suitability for
promotion as Assistant Care Taker assessable under RBI’s Master Circular on
Promotion Policy for Class-III and IV employees issued on 2nd July 2012 was to
be based on the evaluation of the entire record of the employee.

As to the “washing off” theory, Court
relied on Badrinath v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2000) 8 SCC 395, in which it was held that if adverse
remarks relate to a period prior to an earlier promotion, they indeed can be
treated as having lost their sting and being rendered weak subject to the rider
that if they relate to dishonesty or lack of integrity, they can be considered
to have not lost their strength fully so as to be ignored altogether. The Court
also rejected the plea of equity on the ground that where there is a conflict
between law and equity, it is the law which will prevail. [Patel Ram Meena v. Reserve Bank of India,  decided on 27.07.2015]

Source: Legal news India

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