The Central Administrative Tribunal, Madras Bench, has ruled that promotion cannot be withheld because of the mere pendency of investigation and directed the Defence Ministry to promote an Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS) officer within 45 days.

Disposing of an application filed by M. Ravi, a 1975 batch officer, the Bench, comprising members B. Venkateswara Rao and Naresh Gupta, held that the defence authorities had erred in withholding his promotion without valid reason. The Bench also said, “No charge sheet has been issued to the applicant. The promotion was withheld merely on the ground of pendency of criminal investigation by the CBI.”

Mr. Ravi is presently working as Senior Deputy Director of General, Armoured Vehicles Factory, Avadi.

He contended that he served in various capacities in other factories. The Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) convened in January 2012 and 2013 recommended his name along with S.K. Gupta and B.N. Singh for promotion to Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for its final approval.

He was not promoted on the ground of a criminal investigation by CBI pending against him. The investigation was a result of an alleged irregularity that took place when he was working at ordnance factory, Medak, between 1999 and 2005.

In an application before CAT, he also sought a direction to the defence authorities to promote him. He also contended that the promotion had been withheld because of ‘long pending’ investigation but there was no disciplinary action of any kind initiated against him. Hence, Mr. Ravi said that the authorities postponed the promotion indefinitely.

The defence authorities contended that six vacancies arose in the level of member to the Ordnance Factory Board.

In fact, the recommendation of DPC should be approved by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for effecting promotion. Along with others, the candidature of Mr. Ravi was also considered. In view of the investigation by the CBI with respect to him, the ACC accorded its approval to others and directed the Defence Ministry to resubmit the proposal for promotion of Mr. Ravi after completion of the ongoing investigation.

The Tribunal also pointed out that a draft charge sheet which did not fructify into regular charge sheet and that should not be a ground for withholding promotion. The Tribunal added, “Unless a regular charge sheet is issued, no disciplinary action can be initiated against the officer of the government and no promotion can be withheld by the mere pendency of investigation.”

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