Legal Correspondent

Must not be used as fault-finding process

  • CR provides vital inputs for assessing performance
  • Tribunal overlooked good track record

    New Delhi: In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has held that Government authorities should not use confidential reports (CRs) to settle personal scores against employees.

    Remarks such as "incompetent," "lacks objectivity," "arrogant" by a competent authority against a subordinate should not be made out of personal bias, said a Bench, comprising Justices A.R. Laskhmanan and Altamas Kabir.

    "The confidential report is an important document as it provides the basic and vital inputs for assessing the performance of an officer and further achievements in his career. Performance appraisal through CRs should not be used as a tool for human resource development and is not to be used as a fault-finding process but a developmental one."

    S.T. Ramesh, Inspector-General of Police, Karnataka, moved the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bangalore, for quashing certain adverse remarks in his CR.

    The Tribunal dismissed the application. On appeal the Karnataka High Court upheld the order.

    The apex court gave a directive and the Karnataka Government made available the entire service records of the appellant for the period from 1978-79 to 2005-2006. The Bench noted that except the impugned adverse remarks, all entries were "excellent," "very good" and "outstanding." Besides, many officers rated him a smart and well-balanced officer.

    "Intemperate language"

    Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Lakshmanan said it was evident from these remarks that the appellant was an officer of outstanding qualities and merit. "It is true that in his representation he has used intemperate language, mainly against respondent No. 2 [C. Dinakar, IPS] on an erroneous assumption that the adverse remarks had been made by the said respondent, but use of such intemperate language has to be looked at objectively after a careful consideration of all the Annual Confidential Reports for all the years."

    "An error"

    The Bench said, "the Tribunal committed an error in overlooking the otherwise consistently good track record of the appellant," and set aside the orders passed by it and the High Court. Allowing the appeal, the Bench directed the authorities to treat the appellant's performance during the period in question as "average."