Punjab & Haryana High Court’s order on Monday came as a significant victory for highly acclaimed IAS officer, Ashok Khemka. The officer is currently serving as Principal Secretary, Department of Sports in Haryana government.
Besides removing CM Manohar Lal Khattar’s bad remarks, Punjab & Haryana HC observed that “since the number of officers whose integrity is beyond doubt and who have professional integrity of higher standard was depleting very fast, therefore, they need protection from being damaged by recording adverse remarks against the record.”
The bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Kuldip Singh restored Khemka’s grading to 9.92 as well. CM Khattar, in his capacity as “Accepting Authority,” had reduced the grades to 9 out of 10.
The PAR is for the period between 8 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. During this period, Khemka was serving in the Science and
In his plea before the court, Khemka mentioned Reviewing Authority’s remarks. Anil Vij, Minister of Sports, described Ashok Khemka as an officer with effective professional integrity under challenging situations. The former consequently gave him a grading of 9.92/10.
Delay in the Procedure
Khattar, being Accepting Authority, brought down the score to 9. He also added that the performance of the officer was slightly exaggerated. Moreover, CM delayed the process by releasing the remarks on 31 December 2017, nearly 6 months after the deadline.
As per rule, the accepting authority is allowed to record the remarks within a timeframe of 30 days.
CAT Dismissed Officer’s Plea
Ashok Khemka took the matter of delay before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) later in 2018. His plea was, however, dismissed on grounds that the Accepting Authority or CM could record his remarks even after the specified timeframe.
After having got his plea dismissed by CAT, he moved Punjab & Haryana High Court in January 2019.
In March 2019, the two-judge bench decided the matter stating that there indeed was a delay by the CM. It said that the statutory representation of the petitioner had undoubtedly been delayed by the Accepting Authority.