T.P.S. Chawla, J.
(1) The petitioner, Avtar Singh, is anInspector in the Delhi Police. His case, in this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, when extricated from the massof confused details and irrelevancies which clutter the record, fallsunder four main heads. First, there is a question as to the date onwhich he ought to have been confirmed as Sub-Inspector, and theseniority to which he would thereby be entitled. The second questionis whether he was entitled to be considered for promotion to therank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in 1967. Thirdly, whetherthere were any circumstances existing which vitiated the consideration which he received for promotion to that rank in 1970 and 1972.And, fourthly, whether certain adverse remarks made in his annualconfidential report for the period 1969-70 ought to be expunged.I will deal with each of these questions in that order.Confirmation and Seniority
(2) The petitioner started his career with the Delhi Police as a Constable. He was enrolled on 1/04/1936. In the course oftime he rose to be Head Constable and was confirmed as such on 1/07/1947. But one month earlier, on 1/06/1947, he wasappointed officiating Assistant Sub-Inspector. He continued to officiate till 1/04/1949, on which date he was reverted as HeadConstable. On 15/03/1950, he was appointed officiatingAssistant Sub-Inspector again. Whilst still not confirmed as anAssistant Sub-Inspector, he was appointed officiating Sub-Inspectoron 26/02/1951. He was confirmed as Assistant Sub-Inspector on 8/05/1952. This is an important date as it confines,chronologically, the controversy at one end. The petitioner has nogrievance about the date on which he was confirmed as AssistantSub-Inspector, and anything which happened prior to that date is,therefore, of no consequence.
(3) For the purposes of regulating promotion amongst enrolledPolice Officers to various ranks, rule 13.1(3) of the Punjab PoliceRules 1934 (P.P.R.) requires six promotion lists to be maintained.The list which regulates promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector iscalled list E, and is maintained in the office of Deputy InspectorsGeneral Promotion to the rank of Inspector is regulated by list which is maintained in the office of the Inspector-General.
(4) On 13/03/1953, the petitioner's name was brought onlist E. Soon afterwards, in April 1953, he was 'transferred toJullundur range and posted in District Kangra in Punjab. At thattime, the members of the police force in Delhi and Punjab formedpart of a joint cadre, at any rate, so far as 'Upper Subordinates'were concerned. 'Upper subordinates' are defined by P.P.R. 1.13as including 'all enrolled police officers of and above the rank ofAssistant Sub-Inspector.' The cadre of the two States remained jointtill 1/11/1959, when there was separation and re-organisation. The petitioner was 'transferred' back to Delhi in April 1958.Although I have used the word 'transferred' with reference to themovement of the petitioner to Jullundur range and his return toDelhi, there is a dispute as to what exactly that means and implies.I will revert to this later.
(5) Throughout the time that the petitioner was posted at various places in Jullundur range, he continued to officiate as Sub-Inspector. On 30/03/1955 the petitioner was sent to the Police TrainingCollege at Phillaur to take a course of training known as 'The UpperSchool Course'. This is another qualification required to be fulfillledbefore an Assistant Sub-Inspector can be promoted to the rank ofSub-Inspector. Necessarily, thereforee, those who are sent for thistraining must be Assistant Sub-Inspectors. Since the petitioner wasofficiating as Sub-Inspector already, he was 'reverted' to his substantive rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector when he was sent for training in this course. After duly qualifying in the Upper School Course,the petitioner returned to duty at the end of August 1955, and wasposted as Station House Officer at Jwalamukhi. On 1/11/1955, he was again appointed officiating Sub-Inspector.
(6) When the petitioner reutrned to Delhi in April 1958, he wasstill officiating as Sub-Inspector. Ultimately, he was confirmed asSub-Inspsector on 19/06/1959.
(7) In October 1962, the petitioner was permitted to take thequalifying test for admission to list F. He passed this test and wasbrought on list F with effect from 3/12/1962. On 1 6/07/1963 he was appointed officiating Inspector. He was confirmed as Inspector on 9/01/1969, This is another importantdate as it fixes the other chronological limit beyond which the controversy under this head does not range. The reason is that it wasaccepted on behalf of the petitioner, after much cross-checking andverification, that no matter which date of confirmation as sub inspector was given to him after he qualified in the Upper SchoolCourse, he could not, as things actually went, have attained confirmation as Inspector earlier than that date.
(8) With this brief outline of the main events, I can turn to the 'petitioner's contentions. In the petition it is asserted that in accordance with P.P.R. 13.18 the petitioner was entitled, and must bedeemed to have been confirmed as Sub-Inspector on 26/02/1953, that is, on the conclusion of the probationary period of twoyears reckoned from 26/02/1951, the date on which he wasfirst appointed officiating Sub-Inspector. There are at least threereasons why this contention cannot be sustained.
(9) Firstly, by 26/02/1953, the petitioner's name had noteven been brought on to list E, which regulates promotion to therank of Sub-Inspector. As I have said above, his name was enteredon that list on 13/03/1953. Thus, on 26/02/1953he did not have this necessary qualification. But, counsel for the petitioner argued that on a fair reading of P.P.R. 13.10 it could notbe said that this was a condition precedent for promotion to therank of Sub-Inspector. The title of that rule is : 'List E. Promotionto Sub-Inspectors'. It reads as follows :
(1)Alist of all Assistant Sub-Inspectors, who haveapproved by the Deputy Inspector-General as fit for trialin independent charge of a police station, or for specialist posts on the establishment of sub-inspectors, shall bemaintained in card index form by each Deputy InspectorGeneral. Officiating promotions of short duration shallordinarily be made within the District concerned [videsub-rule 13.4(2)], but vacancies of long duration maybe filled by the promotion of any eligible man in therange at the discretion of the Deputy Inspector-General.Half-yearly reports on all men entered in the list maintained under this rule shall be furnished in the formNo. 13.9(3) by the 15th October, in addition to theannual report to be submitted by the 15th April, in accordance with Police Rule 13.17(1).
(2)No Assistant Sub-Inspector shall be confirmed in a substantive vacancy in the rank of sub-inspector unless hehas been tested for at least a year as an officiating sub inspector in independent charge of a police station in adistrict other than that in which his home is situated.'
(10) Of course, there is anobvious contrast in the form of statement adopted in the two sub-rules : whereas sub-rule (2) is expressedin the form of a positive prohibition, sub-rule (1) is simply affirmative. However, I do not think this leads to the conclusion that ent'ryon list E is not a pre-requisite for promotion. Having regard to thescheme of the chapter in which this rule is found, it is quite plainthat this rule is supplementary to rule 13.1(3). This latter ruleexpressly says that list E, like the other lists, will 'regulate promotion'. If promotion could be had to the rank of Sub-Inspector without coming on to list E, the list would be devoid of any function.In Kirpal Singh Officiating Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police vs. TheState of Punjab and others, 1969 S.L.R. 120, it is said on page130 that 'unless the name of (an) Assistant Sub-Inspector is borneon list E he cannot even be considered for promotion as Sub-Inspectorof Police'. I think the point is so clear that it will not really bearany argument. There is a discernible reason why sub-rule (2) ofP.P.R. 13.10 is expressed in prohibitory form. It lays down anadditional qualification which an Assistant Sub-Inspector must havebefore lie can 'be confirmed in a substantive vacancy in the rank ofSub-Inspector'. This qualification is apparently not necessary for'officiating' in the higher rank. But entry in list E is essential evenfor this.
(11) Faced with this position, it was suggested on behalf of the petitioner that he must be deemed to have come on to list E whenhe was appointed officiating Sub-Inspector on 26/02/1951.I was not referred to any rule or other provision or principle of lawwhich would justify the making of such an assumption. In the affidavit filed by the Inspector-General of Police, one of the respondents,it is said that in 1950 a large number of posts were sanctioned inthe rank of Sub-Inspector on account of reorganisation of the DelhiPolice, and as a sufficient number of qualified officers were not available to man these posts, unqualified officers had to be promoted tofill the vacancies. That is probably what happened, and the petitioner was one of those who obtained promotion before he was fullyqualified.
(12) Secondly, on 26/02/1953, the petitioner had not yetpassed the Upper School Course. No doubt, the rules do not prescribe this as a qualification, or, indeed, even refer to such a course.Yet, it was recognised in Kirpal Singh Officiating Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police vs. The State of Punjab and others, 1969 S.L.R.120, that it was long established practice that successful completion of this training was a pre-requisite for entry on list E. Thetrue position emerges from the judgment delivered in appeal againstthat decision, which i
(13) Thirdly, the whole contention of the petitioner is based on atotal misunderstanding of P.P.R. 13.18. This rule states that:All police officers promoted in rank shall be on probation fortwo years, provided that the appointing authority may,by special order in each case, permit periods of officiating service to count towards the period of probation. Onthe conclion of the probationary period a report shallbe rendered to the authority empowered to confirm thepromotion who shall either confirm the officer or reverthim. In no case shall the period of probation be extended beyond two years and the confirming authoritymast arrive at a definite decision within a reasonabletime soon after the expiry of that period whether theofficer should be confirmed or reverted. While on probation officers may be reverted without departmentalproceedings. Such reversion shall not be considered reduction for the purpose of rule 16.4.This rule shall not apply to constables and Sub-Inspectors promoted to the selection grade, whose case is governed byrules 13.5, and 13.14.'Under this rule, the petitioner claims that the period of two years ofprobation ought to be counted from 26/02/1951 when hefirst began to officiate as Sub-Inspector. The fundamental fallacyunderlying this demand is that it assumes that an 'officiating' appointment in a higher rank is equivalent to an appointment on probation.That is not so, and this is really apparent from the fact that the ruleitself enables the appointing authority, by a special order in eachcase, to 'permit periods of officiating service to count towards theperiod of probation'. Such a statement would be meaningless if thetwo kinds of appointment were the same.
(14) The nature of an officiating appointment can be seen fromP.P.R. 13.12(1) which says :
'INfilling temporary vacancies in the rank of sub-inspector theobject shall be to test all men on list E as fully as possible in independent charges. The order in which names occur in the list should be disregarded, the opportunities of officiating in the higher rank being distributed asevenly as possible. An assistant sub-inspector officiatingas a sub-inspector should ordinarily continue so to officiate for the duration of the vacancy, and should not bereverted merely because another assistant sub-inspectorsenior to him is not officiating. This principle may,however, be modified if in any case its observance wouldresult in a thoroughly competent man being deprived bya man markedly his junior of an officiating appointmentof more than 8 months' duration.'
It is, thus, clear that an officiating appointment is made when thereis a, temporary vacancy.
(15) A Division Bench of this court dealt with the very same question in Sat Pal vs. Delhi Administration & Others, I.L.R. (1972) Del 888, except that it was dealing with promotion to therank of Assistant Sub-Inspector. After referring to the relevant rules,which were the same as I have quoted, the Division Bench said :
'INour opinion an analysis of the rules shows that officiatingpromotion of Assistant Sub-Inspectors from list D is intended to be made, as far as possible, in rotation or turnsso as to give each man a trial in the duties of higherrank. We are of the view that officiating appointmentsenvisaged in the rule are appointments against temporaryposts or against temporary vacancies in permanent posts,both of which must, in the nature of things, be of ashort duration. But in case there is a permanent postand a permanent or regular vacancy and there is exigency of public service requiring local arrangement IT is difficult to hold that the rules permit promotion ofqualified men to be made in officiating capacity for morethan two years being the period mentioned in rule 13.18during which their fitness and confirmation must finallybe determined. It is obvious that the promotion of a fitsenior officer cannot be superseded and bye-passed bya junior, by keeping the senior in the higher post in anofficiating capacity indefinitely. Any other interpretation would destroy the object of the rules and wouldmilitate particularly against rule 13.18. On a construction of rule 13.9(2), if it be left to the authorities concerned to discriminate against equal persons and appointsome in offciating capacity and keep them in this capacity for several years, while appoint others on probationon way to automatic confirmation after two years, thepower will be unguided and unfettered and would be discriminatory and unconstitutional.'
On the same theme it was said a little afterwards :
'THEprovision in rule 13.18 empowering the appointingauthority to permit periods of officiating service to becounted towards the period of probation, is not intendedto confer a right on the appointing authority to pick andchoose from amongst the police officers found fit forpromotion and give benefit of automatic confirmationunder rule 13.18 to some and to deny it to others. ... ..If there is nothing against the officers, senior qualifiedofficers must be promoted and confirmed and if there beanything against them which militates against their fitness, there must be a definite decision according to lawholding them unfit for promotion or confirmation everytime their juniors are considered for promotion.'
(16) From this base, and in particular the passages cited. I woulddeduce the following propositions :
(A)Officiating appointments can be made to a temporarypost or when there is a temporary vacancy in a permanentpost.
(B)An appointment in a permanent vacancy in a permanentpost is an appointment on probation within the meaningof P.P.R. 13.18.
(C)The rules must not be so worked that juniors are confirmedbefore their seniors not found to be unfit for promotion.
In his endeavor to show that an officiating appointment was alsoan appointment on probation, counsel for the petitioner referred to thefirst paragraph of P.P.R. 12.2(3) which says :
'ALLappointments of enrolled police officers are on probationaccording to the rules in this chapter applicable to eachrank.'
No doubt, the rule uses the broad phrase 'All appointments'. But, Ithink its meaning is intrinsically curtailed by the word 'probation',.which must necessarily be understood in the sense indicated by theDivision Bench.
(17) So much for the first contention on behalf of the petitioner.His alternative contention, on this part of the case, is that, in anyevent, he ought to have been confirmed as Sub-Inspector before any ofhis juniors. This fully accords with proposition (e) which I have justdeduced from the judgment of the Division Bench, and must, thereforee, be upheld. However, there is a rider, and that is that he musthave been qualified for promotion in all respects at the time at whichhe seeks confirmation. He reached this position only in September1955, after he passed the Upper School Course, although he had beenbrougt on list E much earlier. It is true, and in the end was conceded by counsel for Delhi Administration, that the rules were notstrictly adhered to at that time in making confirmations. There areinstances of persons who were confirmed as Sub-Inspectors thoughlacking some qualification. Much confusion also prevailed as to themode of reckoning seniority. The matter was dealt with in accordancewith instructions issued by the Inspector-General of Police, Punjab. Atone time seniority was reckoned from the date of entry on list E.At another, it was fixed with effect from 'the date of continuous officiation' in a particular rank. This is patent from the Notes at pages5, 6, 33, 45, 56 and 74 in the file of the Home Department relatingto the memorials sent by the petitioner regarding his seniority. Lookingback, in the afterlight of the judgment of the Division Bench, it is nowpossible to say that the rules were mis-interpreted and mis-applied.In mitigation, I would add, that the rules were never easy to comprehend.
(18) Notwithstanding all that may have happened, I am bound tofollow the judgment of the Division Bench and give effect to the rules.In accordance therewith, and for the reasons I have stated, the petitioner was not qualified for promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector tillSeptember 1955. But after that time, the petitioner was entitled to beconsidered for confirmation as Sub-Inspector on each occasion thatone of his juniors was confirmed. The petitioner says that respondentsNos. 7 to 20 were junior to him but were confirmed as Sub-Inspectorsearlier. On closer examination it was found that some of them werenot in fact juniors because they had been confirmed as Assistant sub inspectors before him, and the second paragraph of P.P.R. 12.2(3)says that seniority shall 'be finally settled by dates of confirmation'.In order to clarify the matter further, I gave leave to both sides to filesupplementary affidavits. It now transpires that Harpal Singh, respondent No. 14, was the first Assistant Sub-Inspector junior to the petitioner who was confirmed as Sub-Inspector after September 1955. the petitioner, it will be -remembered, was confirmed as Assistant sub inspector on 8/05/1952. Harpal Singh was confirmed as AssistantSub-Inspector on 8/05/1953. He was confirmed as Sub-Inspector on 17/10/1956. On this date the petitioner was qualifiedfor promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector and ought to have beenconsidered for confirmation. And, he wa.s entitled to be consideredfor confirmation as Sob-Inspector on every subsequent occasion onwhich an Assistant Sub-Inspector junior to him was so confirmed.
(19) To this line of reasoning and the conclusion to which it lead?another objection was raised. It was said that during the period between April 1953 to April 1958 when the petitioner was posted inJullundur range, all matters connected with his service were controlledand dealt with by that range, and he could not, thereforee, be confirmedor expect to be confirmed as Sub-Inspector in Delhi during that time.On the other hand, it was contended, that he was rent to Jullundur rangeonly on deputation, and on his return to Delhi was entitled to obtainseniority in accordance with the second paragraph of P.P.R. 12.2(3)which provides that:
'SENIORITY,in the case of upper subordinates, will be reckonedin the first instance from date of first appointment, officers promoted from a lower rank being considered seniorto persons appointed direct on the same date, and theseniority of officers appointed direct on the same datebeing reckoned according to age. Seniority shall, however, be finally settled by dates of confirmation, the seniority inter se of several officers confirmed on the samedate being that allotted to them on first appointment.Provided that any officer whose promotion or confirmationis delayed by reason of his being on deputation outside hisrange or district shall, on being promoted or confirmed,regain the seniority which he originally held vis-a-vil anyofficers promoted or confirmed before him during thedeputation.'
Clearly, if the last sentence in this rule applies the petitioner would beentitled to confirmation as Sub-Inspector as if he had remained inDelhi throughout-
(20) There is no rule which expressly says that for purposes ofpromotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector each range is to be regaledas a separate unit. However, this does appear to be implicit in manyrules. For administrative purposes, the districts of a State are grouped in ranges under the charge of a Deputy Inspector-General who,in turn, is under the control of the Inspector-General of Police : seeP.P.R. 1.4. All police officers of a State constitute one police forceand are liable for duty anywhere within that Sta,te: see P.P.R. 1.5.The executive head of the police force in a district is the Superintendentof Police : see P.P.R. 1.8. Power to appoint Sub-Inspectors is vestedin Superintendents of Police : see P.P.R. 12.1. It is significant thatthe second paragraph of P.P.R. 12.1(4) says that :
'SUB-INSPECtorSand Assistant Sub-Inspectors shall be borne onrange rolls and shall receive range constabulary numbers.'
That would tend to show that ranges are self-contained so far as thesetwo ranks are concerned. The fact that P.P.R. 13.1(3) requires thatlist E be maintained in the office of Deputy Inspectors-General reenforces this inference. And P.P.R. 13.11 expressly refers to list Eof each range'. Ordinarily, officiating promotions of short durationto the rank of Sub-Inspector are to be made within the district concerned, but 'vacancies of long duration may be filled by the promotionof any eligible man in the range at the discretion of the Deputy Inspector-General' : see P.P.R. 13.10(1). If the flow of promotions in this rankis unevenly distributed among districts, the Deputy Inspector General isrequired to make suitable transfers of Assistant Sub-Inspectors : secP.P.R. 13.4(2). From the general scheme of these rules, I think,it is true to say that for promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector theprimary unit is the district, and the largest one is the range. So, itfollows., that if the petitioner was in fact 'transferred' to Jullundurrange, he could not, whilst there, receive promotion or confirmationin Delhi.
(21) The order by which the petitioner was seat to Jullundur rangehas not been produced. It, thus, becomes a matter of inference whether he was sent by v/ay of 'transfer' or on 'deputation'. I was notshown any rule or authority distinguishing one from the other. Nordo I propose to attempt to define the difference. For the present purpose it is sufficient to take notice of the indications implicit in thelast sentence of the second paragraph of P.P.R. 12.2(3) which I havequoted above. It is clearly implied by that sentence that deputationis a posting of temporary duration outside the home range or district,and the person sent on deputation continues to look homewards forpromotion or confirmation. Transfer', which in this context is theantithesis, must, thereforee, exhibit the opposite indications. Hence,the facts must be examined from these points of view to ascertain whichit was.
(22) Much stress was laid on the words of the relevant entries inthe 'Records of Postings' maintained in the petitioner's Service Book.The entry on 16/04/1953 is : 'Transferred to Kangra District':and that on 23/04/1953 says : 'Received on transfer'. In timewith this is the entry on 24/04/1958 which reads: 'Reverted toDelhi Police'. It was also pointed out that in some of his letters andrepresentations the petitioner has himself said that he was 'transferred'to the Punjab or Jullundur range or Kaogra District : in particular,in his representation dated 18/12/1959 addressed to theDeputy Inspector-General of Police, Delhi. I do not attach much importance to the mere use of this terminology, especially, as it is not shown, that those who used it were conscious at that time it wouldhave critical significance. The words 'transfer' and 'reverted' areequivocal and are loosely used even in reference to 'deputation'. Besides, if terminology is to be the sole guide, then in many letters the petitioner has said that he was sent to Jullundur range on 'deputation' for a period of five years, as for example in his letter dated 13/06/1957 addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Delhi, a copy ofwhich is annexed to the rejoinder. I prefer to rest my conclusion onsomething more substantial.
(23) One important fact is that though the petitioner was confirmedas Assistant Sub-Inspector with effect from 8th May 1952. the orderof confirmation was made on 21/12/1953 by the Superintendent of Police, Headquarters, Delhi, many months after the petitionerhad already gone to Jullundur range. This appears from the communication of that order to the Superintendent of Police, Kangra, a copyof which is annexed to the rejoinder. It establishes that even whilstserving in Jullundur range, the confirmation of the petitioner in aparticular rank was being dealt with by Delhi.
(24) Even more tell tale is the fact that throughout the time thathe was in Jullundur range, the petitioner continued to hold the constabulary number 263/D which was allotted to him in Delhi. This isthe number mentioned in all, except one, of his annual confidentialreports for the period when he was away. The only exception is thereport for the period 1/10/1953 to 31/03/1954. In thereport for this period the number mentioned is 58/J. It was neverrepeated in the subsequent reports. How this number came to bementioned in that one report is not known. Whatever the reasonsay have been, it was apparently discarded immediately afterwards.From this circumstance, it seems legitimate io infer that Jullundur rangeregarded the petitioner as belonging to Delhi, and so did Delhi itself,for it did not cancel the petitioner's constabulary number.
(25) Again, when the question arose of sending the petitioner fortraining in the Upper School Course, Jullundur range declined to sponsor him despite recommendations by his superiors. In a letter dated 7/02/1955, the petitioner complained to the Superintendent ofPolice at Delhi that his case was 'being ignored at Delhi', on whichState he claimed a lien', and requested that he be sent for the Courseby Delhi. This letter is at page 43 of the Personal File of the petitioner.A note on this letter made by the Superintendent of Police shows thatthe request was granted. It is admitted that the petitioner was sentto the Upper School Course in a vacancy reserved for Delhi. So, aslate as April, 1955, two years after his 'transfer', Delhi was still treating the petitioner as its protege. The petitioner regarded himself likewise. In a letter dated 2/10/1955, the petitioner requestedthe Superintendent of Police, Delhi, to recall him. The reasons hegave were that his 'parent State was Delhi' and he was on its 'permanent rolls' and held a lien at-Delhi', and also because the matterof his 'confirmation as S. 1. will be ultimately decided at Delhi'. Inanother letter dated 13/06/1957 addressed to the Inspector-Generalof Police, Delhi, the petitioner said :
'ASusual my seniority for confirmation and promotion has tobe fixed in my parent department, it may well be in thefitness of things for me to request that if my services areno longer required then my deputation period is almostover and I should be sent back to Delhi for otherwisethere is every likelihood of my chances of promotion beingshadowed. I may further add that I have already sufferedon account of my deputation in spite of my successfulcareer.'
And there are other similar letters.
(26) All these circumstances overwhelmingly demonstrate to pi'mind that the petitioner was sent on 'deputation'. The authorities atDelhi, and the petitioner himself, regarded the 'transfer' as temporary,and every one proceeded on the footing that the petitioner's confirmation and promotion would be decided at Delhi. In answer to aquestion put in the course of arguments the petitioner admitted thatwhilst in Jullundur range he had not received a deputation allowance.But I was not shown any rule or instruction providing for this. I donot think that this circumstance, even assuming the point to be a,valid one, is sufficient to displace the conclusion, which the other circumstances I have mentioned, so strongly suggest. Finding, as I do,that the petitioner was on 'deputation', there is no need to alter thedate on which, in my opinion, he ought to have been considered for confirmation as Sub-Inspector.
(27) To what relief is the petitioner then entitled I take up thisquestion subject to the decision on the question of laches of the petitioner, which I will consider immediately afterwards. It is now settledlaw that in matters of this kind the court will not order the StateGovernment to promote the aggrieved officer with retrospective effect.What the court will do is to issue a writ to the State Government requiring it to do its duty and to consider whether, having regard to hisseniority and fitness, the officer should have been promoted on a particular date; and, if so, what consequential benefits should be allowed to him: See State of Mysore and another v. P. N. Nanjundiah an,danother, 1969 S.L.R. 346 and State of Mysore v. C. R.Seshadri and others, 1974 (1) S.L.R. 407. I find nothingin Janki Prasad Parimoo and others v. State of Jammu and Kashmira others, 1973 (1) S.L.R. 719 leading to a different conclusion. There, an interim arrangement was made to tide over thetime till certain rules found to be defective were rectified. Even by theinterim arrangement the court did not order any particular person tobe promoted. It is obvious that whenever promotion is to be by selection, the court cannot order promotion but only consideration. Otherwise, the court would have usurped the functions of the selectingauthority, which it is ill-fitted to discharge. In the present case, P.P-R.13.1(1) specifically says that 'Promotion from one rank to another,and from one grade to another in the same rank, shall be made byv. selection tempered by seniority', and then states the factors governingselection. Merely because the petitioner was eligible for confirmationas Sub-Inspector at a particular time does not mean that he wouldnecessarily have been selected.
(28) The result is that the petitioner can only get an order requiring him to be considered for confirmation as Sub-Inspector on 1 7/10/1956, and on every subsequent occasion on which an AssistantSub-Inspector junior to him was confirmed as Sub-Inspector. Depending upon the result of that consideration, he will be entitled to be considered for consequential benefits. Thus, all his grievances flowingfrom delayed confirmation will automatically get resolved. Forexample, one such grievance is that he was not permitted to take thequalifying test for admission to list F before October 1962. He maderepresentations in December 1959 seeking permission to take that testdue to be held in January 1960. However, permission was not grantedas, according to the instructions prevailing at that time, only Sub-Inspectors who were confirmed on or before 1st January 1958 were allowed totake that test. The petitioner, it will be remembered, was confirmed on 19/06/1959. But, if he had been confirmed as Sub-Inspector before 1/01/1958, he would have been permitted to take the testin 1960. If he had passed, as he did, he might have become officiatingInspector much before 16/07/1963, the date on which he wasactually appointed as such. Of course, for reasons I have alreadystated, his date of confirmation as Inspector would still not be altered.Nonetheless, it would make a difference if he had been appointed officiating Inspector earlier than he was. He would have reached higherscales of pay earlier, and also retired on a higher scale. Thereby notonly would he have drawn larger emoluments whilst in service, buthis pension would also be increased. These are some of the consequential benefits which would have to be considered depending upon The result of his consideration for confirmation as Sub-Inspector.
(29) But the further question is whether the petitioner should, inthe circumstances, be granted this relief at all after the passage of' so much time. The petition before me was instituted on 17/08/1973, and, prima facie, there does appear to have been inordinatedelay. It is sought to be explained on the ground that, throughout, the petitioner was continually making representations to the appropriateauthorities demanding redress of his seniority. The record establisheswithout a doubt that, from first to last, the petitioner made representations with a pertinacity which is remarkable, causing counsel forDelhi Administration to comment that the petitioner's persistence became tedious. I do not propose to attempt an exhaustive enumerationof all the representations which the petitioner made, but will onlygive a summary mentioning the more salient ones.
(30) Although the petitioner made representations even before 19thJune 1959, the date on which he was confirmed as Sub-Inspector, IT is unnecessary to refer to them because till then the matter of hisconfirmation remained undecided, and he had no cause of action formoving a court. More accurately, time could only begin to run againstthe petitioner from the day on which his date of confirmation wasannounced. The actual order was made on 29/10/1959, thoughconfirming him with effect from 19/06/1959, and was presumpublished in the Police Gazette sometime later. Putting the case againstthe petitioner at its highest, he can be required to explain the delayonly after the end of October 1959. From what follows it will beobserved that he acted most expeditiously.
(31) On 1/12/1959 the petitioner addressed a representation to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Delhi, requesting thathis date of confirmation be re-fixed taking into account that he oughtto have been brought on to list E much earlier than, in fact, he was.He also requested that his name should be brought on to list By a letter dated 8/12/1959, the Deputy Inspector Generalrejected this representation paying that he was not competent to reviewthe order of the Inspector-General of Police by which the name of the petitioner had been included in list E in 1953, and that the petitionershould have protested to the proper authorities at that time. To thisthe petitioner responded by his letter of 18/12/1959. Henarrated the previous representations made by him and the assuranceswhich, he said, he had obtained from his superior officers regardingthe preservation of his seniority. Regarding the competence of theDeputy Inspector-General to review the matter, he drew attention toP.P.R. 13.10 according to which list E is controlled by the DeputyInspector-General and not the Inspector-General. Once again he requested that he be permitted to appear in the test due to be held inJanuary 1960 for being brought on to list F.
(32) It appears that no reply to this letter was received by the petitioner despite a reminder dated 2/01/1960. It is true that onpage 8 of file No. 7/9/64-Home (P), maintained by Delhi Administration there is a copy of a letter dated 3/02/1960 addressed by theInspector-General of Police, Delhi, to the Superintendent of PoliceSouth District, which refers to the petitioner's representation dated 1 8/12/1959 and states that the petitioner's date of confirmationas Sub-Inspector 'had been correctly fixed according to his seniority,and that there were no grounds to review his case. However, thereis nothing on record to show that the decision contained in this letterwas ever communicated to the petitioner. In paragraph 18 of THE petition he categorically says that he did not receive any reply. Though,in the like paragraph of the affidavit sworn by the Inspector-General of Police, this allegation is repudiated with the general statement thatproper replies were sent to all the petitioner's representations', noattempt has been made to support this statement with respect tothe representation of 18/12/1959. Even the original letterdated 3/02/1960, seemingly written by the Inspector-General to the Superintendent of Police, has not been produced. In thosecircumstances, I have no option but to believe the petitioner. Moreover, the subsequent correspondence tends to support his standinasmuch as it does not allude to any such reply.
(33) The next representation worth noticing is that of 17/10/1963. It was addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Delhi, andcomplained that in list F, which had by now been published, the petitioner had been given the seniority, to which he was entitled. By a letterdated 22/11/1963 the petitioner was informed that this representation had been rejected by the Inspector-General of Police 'aftercareful consideration'. No reason at all was indicated for reachingthis decision.
(34) The petitioner then sent a representation dated 25/01/1964 to the Chief Commissioner, Delhi. A copy of this representationis on page 21 of Delhi Administration's file which I have already mentioned. This representation was rejected by a letter dated 25/05/1964, and again no reasons whatsoever were given.
(35) On 1/09/1964, the petitioner sent a petition to thePresident of India, of which a copy is on page 77 of the Administration's file. By a letter dated 6/03/1965 the petitioner was toldthat as his 'appeal' against the order of the Inspector-General had beenrejected by the Chief Commissioner and he had thus 'already exerciseda right of appeal available under the rules', the Chief Commissionerhad ordered that his petition addressed to the President should bewithheld.
(36) On 29/05/1965, the petitioner addressed another petitionto the President. It was sent 'through proper channel' but an advancecopy was forwarded directly to the President. After more than twoyears, by a letter dated 23/08/1967, the Inspector-General ofPolice informed the petitioner that this petition had also been 'considered and rejected'. No further elucidation was offered.
(37) Yet another round of representations was started by the petitioner's second memorial dated 28/03/1968 addressed to thePresident. Again, by a letter dated 12/06/1968 received from theInspector-General of Police, the petitioner was told that his secondmemorial had been withheld by Delhi Administration. Nothing morewas said in this letter. It appears that this letter was written by theInspector-General pursuant to a letter dated 6/06/1968 which liehad in turn received from the Under Secretary (Home), Delhi Administration. A copy of this letter is at page 175 of the Administration'saforesaid file. In the Under Secretary's letter it was stated that the petitioner's second memorial had been withheld by Delhi Administration under para 6 (9) (b) of the instructions contained in the Government of India's Notification No. 40/5/50-Ests. (B) dated 8/09/1954. According to that instruction a petition could be withheldif it was a representation against an order 'passed by a competent authority in the exercise of appellate or revisional powers conferredby any rule, order or contract' regarding the petitioner's conditions ofservice. So, though not communicated to the petitioner, the reasonwas, in effect, the same as that for withholding the first memorial.
(38) Undaunted, the petitioner addressed a third memorial dated 28/07/1969 to the President. He described this as a 'rejoinder' andjustified it on the ground that it disclosed new facts. Nevertheless, hewas informed by a communication dated, 7/11/1969 from the Inspector-General of Police that it had been withheld by DelhiAdministration. The reasons were not disclosed.
(39) Thereafter the petitioner submitted a representation dated 1 6/02/1970 to the Lt. Governor, Delhi; and sent a copy of the sameto the Special Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.Since the petitioner had apparently asked t
(40) It appears from various Notes recorded in Delhi Administration's file No. F.7/10/70-Home(P)/Estt. that, round about this time,the petitioner was able to obtain interview with some of the .concernedofficers in the Administration, and was able toersuade them that hiscase needed a review. Fresh inquiries were made from the InspectorGeneral of Police, and the tide seemed to be turning in favor of the petitioner. Ultimately, in a note recorded on 26/05/1972, theChief Secretary said:
'ONre-examination, I find considerable force in the pointsraised by Avtar Singh and S. S. (H) may please reexamine this case. If the position stated by Avtar Singh in respect of the three cases referred to above, is found tobe correct from the records, then the question, of givinghim due seniority in the rank of Sub-Inspector and Inspector should be taken up.'
(41) The re-examination produced a few queries, some enquiries, anda vast quantity of Notes. Of the last some were in favor of the petitioner and others against him. One thing which is clear fromthose Notes is that no one grasped the true import of P.P.R. 13.18and the other relevant rules as subsequently explained by the DivisionBench of this court in Sat Pal vs. Delhi Administration& Others, I.L.R. (1972) Del 888. Nor were those rules given effect to in accordance with that judgment. What seem to have prevailed were some ad hoc notions which changed from time to time. Thosenotions had .admittedly led to unjustifiable discrimination in the past.
(42) Meanwhile, the petitioner kept up his tempo of representations unabated. His last and perhaps most comprehensive representation isdated 1/01/1973. It is addressed to the President, and the petitioner even asked for audience so that he could be heard in person.No reply was ever received by the petitioner to this representation.After he moved this Court in August 1973, the commencement oflegal proceeding was taken as a reason by the Administration for not taking a final decision on the petitioner's case as the matter wassub judice. Thus, the notes have agreed to 'await the outcome of thispetition'.
(43) For guiding the courts' approach to delay the case invariably cited is M/s. Tilokchand Motichand and others vs. H. B. Munshi,Commissioner of Sales Tax, Bombay and another : 2SCR824 . The overriding principle which it establishes is that 'the question is one of discretion for (the) court to follow from case to case'.Neither the periods prescribed by the Limitation Act nor any other time limits confine or restrict this discretion. But some well recognisedconsiderations do affect its exercise. Before assisting the aggrievedparty the court must be satisfied that it has been moved with the'utmost expedition'; and, in case there has been some delay, thatthere is' a satisfactory Explanationn thereforee. If, in the meantime, rights have been acquired by other persons, who are free from blame, considerations of equity come into play rendering the delay less pardonable. However, it must not be forgotten that these are only subsidiaryprinciples, and the wide power of the court to do justice on the facts ofa given case remains unimpaired. This is borne out by RamachandraShankar Deodhar and ors. vs. The State of Maharashtra and ors., 1974 (1) S.L.R. 470 where it was said :
'.......ITmust be remembered that the rule which says thatthe court may not inquire into belated and stale claimsis not a rule of law, but a rule of practice based onsound and proper exercise of discretion, and there is noinviolable rule that whenever there is delay, the courtmust necessarily refuse to entertain the petition. Eachcase must depend on its own facts.'
In both the cases before the Supreme Court, to which I have just referred, the petitions were under Article 32 of the Constitution. Thatdoes not detract from their relevance, because it has been held thatthe same principles apply to a petition under Article 226 : See 0. P.Gupta vs. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi and ors., 1973 (1) S.L.R. 209.
(44) In the present case there are a number of circumstances whichinduce me not to refuse relief to the petitioner on the ground ofdelay. The petitioner was due to retire on 29/02/1976. Hewill have retired from service by the time this judgment is delivered.If relief is granted to him, his gain will only be monetary. No onewho is presently in service will be affected in any manner. On similarconsiderations, the Supreme Court declined to dismiss the petition onthe ground of delay in Joginder Nath and ors. vs. Union of India and Ors.. 1975 (1) S.L.R. 33. The order challenged in VishwanathVerma vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and ors., 1973 (1) S.L.R. 1053,was of 1962. The petition, it appears, was filed eight years afterwardsin 1970. It was contended that the petition should not be allowed as,in the meantime, some of the respondents had been promoted tohigher posts pursuant to the impugned order. The court rejected thiscontention saying that it was open to the State Government 'to dojustice to the petitioner in this behalf even without disturbing the promotions given' to those respondents. The court added : 'However,that is not our concern', and quashed the offending order. In Ramachandra Shankar Deodhar and ors. vs. The State of Maharashtra and Ors.., 1974 (1) S.L.R. 470, to which I have already referred, THE petition was filed 10 or 12 years after the cause of complaint hadarisen. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court refused to dismiss THE petition merely on the ground of delay because no rights had 'accruedin favor of others by reason of the delay'. Stressing that Article 16 of the Constitution conferred a fundamental right of equality of opportunity, the court said it Could not 'easily allow itself to be persuaded to refuse relief solely on the jejune ground of laches, delay, or the like'.Not only was the proviso to a rifle declared to be void, and a Government resolution quashed, the State Government was directed tore-adjust promotions and confirmations 'in the cadre of DeputyCollectors in the light of the principles laid down in this judgment'.These cases seem to provide ample precedent for granting relief inthe present one, despite the lapse of considerable time.
(45) From the summary of the representations made by the petitioner ]which I have tried to give above, it is apparent that the petitioner never abandoned his attempts to have his grievance set right.It is true that in Rabindra Nath Bose and others vs. Union of Indiaand others, : 2SCR697 , it was said : If the governmenthas turned down one representation, the making of another representation on similar lines would not enable the petitioners to explain thedelay'. But the fact remains that the petitioner was never given anyreal answer to the points which he raised. Some of his representationselicited no reply at all. Others were simply withheld. The replieswhich he did receive were laconic to the point of obscurity, communicating little else than the decision. In modern legal idiom they wouldbe classed as 'non-speaking'. More often than not, they came aftergreat delay, sometimes running into years. The petitioner has filedthe copy of a memorandum dated 9/08/1967 issued by theChief Secretary, Delhi Administration, to all Heads of Departments'Local Officers under Delhi Administration, containing a direction tothe effect that representations should be answered 'without loss oftime and in any case within a month'. No one seems to have paidany heed to this instruction. In fairness, a considerable part of thedelay must be attributed to the Administration. In B. S. Brar B.A.B.T vs. The State through Secretary Education, Punjab, Chandigarhand another, 1970 S.L.R. 889, it was said that 'delay, howsoeverlong, is not an absolute bar to the grant of relief under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution', and further that 'the conduct of theparties against whom any writ is to issue is quite relevant in determining whether a petition should be thrown out because of delay'. Inthat case, also, the representations of the petitioner had not been answered. The petition had been filed about five years after the petitioner's services as a school teacher had been terminated.
(46) Both in the case just cited and in Haryana State Electricity Board vs. State of Punjab and ors., 1972 S.L.R. 540, thefact that the orders made by the authorities were erroneous or illegalor without jurisdiction influenced the court in making its decision onthe question of delay. In the latter case, the petitioner had beenconfirmed as Assistant Engineer Class I with effect from 1957, thoughthe order was made in 1963. The petition assailing that order wasfiled in the High Court in 1966. It was decided a few years afterwards The order of 1963 was quashed, and a writ of mandamus wasissued requiring that the case of the petitioner for confirmation in Class I he considered 'with effect from 1/09/1956 or a dateearlier than that' and his seniority be refixed accordingly. The Supreme Court upheld the order made by the High Court and did notcountenance the plea of laches. There, too, the petitioner had beenmaking representations repeatedly.
(47) In the case now before me, I have conic to the conclusion.for the reasons already stated, that the pertinent rules were neitherunderstood nor applied, and that injustice has been done to the petitioner. Moreover, in May 1972, the Chief Secretary of Delhi Administration himself formed the view that the case' of the petitioner required re-examination and the matter was re-opened. A final decisionhas been postponed to await the result of these proceedings. Takingall these various aspects into account, in my opinion, this 'is not acase in which relief ought to be refused solely on the grournd ofdelay.The Selection of 1967
(48) In 1967 a selection was held for promotion to the rank ofDeputy Superintendent of Police. The petitioner is aggrieved bythe fact that he was not considered for promotion on that occasion.On behalf of Delhi Administration it is maintained that he was notconsidered because at that time he did not fulfill the necessary qualification.
(49) It is stated in P.P.R. 12.1(1) that Deputy Superintendent ofPolice are to be appointed according to the rules contained in Appendix 12.1. The Appendix provides for appointment to that post bydirect recruitment or 'by the promotion of Inspectors' : Rules I andIV. Having regard to the scheme and tenor of these and other rulesto which I have previously referred, it seems obvious that Inspector'here means a 'confirmed' Inspector. The petitioner, it will be recalled,was confirmed as an Inspector only on 9/01/1969, though hewas appointed officiating Inspector on 16/07/1963. It is thereforeemanifest that in 1967 the petitioner did not have the necessary qualification, and was not then entitled to be considered for promotion to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
(50) In the petition it has been pleaded that the petitioner is governed by the Punjab Police Rules and not by the Delhi, HimachalPradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service Rules 1965 ('DHANI' Rules). The latter rules came into force with effectfrom 1/12/1965. Rule 14 of those rules has been challenged by the petitioner as being unconstitutional and void. Alternatively,he has pleaded, that he was qualified for promotion to the rank ofDeputy Superintendent of Police in 1967 under rule 24 of those rules. At the hearing, coimsel for the petitioner expressly disclaimed any intention of questioning the validity of any of the Dhani Rules. Ineed not, thereforee, go into that question and will proceed on thebasis that those rules are valid. Nor need I trouble with the questionwhether the petitioner was governed by the Punjab Police Rules orthe Dhani Rules because in either case the result is the same. Rule5(b)(i) read with rule 14 of the Dhani Rules makes it plain thatonly 'officers who are substantively borne on the cadre of Inspectors'for not less than two years are eligible for promotion to the rank ofDeputy Superintendent of Police. This qualification, again, the petitioner did not fulfill in 1967.
(51) No doubt under rule 24 of the Dhani Rules, an officer whohas officiated as Inspector for not less than three years can be considered for promotion If at any time the Central Government is of theopinion that the number of officers available in the list referred toin sub-rule (4) of rule 15 for appointment to duty posts is not adequate having regard to the vacancies in such posts'. But it is notshown, and there is no material on record from which it can be inferred, that any such eventuality had occurred in 1967. Hence, under whichever of the rules the petitioner's case is considered, hewas not qualified for promotion in that year. And, as I have notedearlier, he now accepts that he could not have been confirmed asInspector before 9/01/1969. The Selections of 1970 and 1972
(52) On 23rd/ 24/02/1970 and lst/ 2/06/1972 theselection committee met and selected Inspectors for promotion to therank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The petitioner was considered for promotion on both those occasions, but was rejected. Hecontends, however, that the consideration which he received on bothoccasions was vitiated by a number of circumstances operating eithersingle or in combination. These are the matters to which I will nowturn.
(53) In 1965 the petitioner was functioning as Station House Officerof the Police Station at Kingsway Camp. A Sub-Inspector, JahangiriLal, was working under him. On 15/06/1965, in the course ofan investigation then being conducted into a case of burglary respecting which a report had been lodged with the Police Station at KingswayCamp, a suspect named Sukhai died. A judicial inquiry was startedoil the same day. There was reason to believe that Sukhai had beentortured before his death. After investigation, it was decided to prosecute Jahangiri Lal and the petitioner, along with two other persons, for various offences. The petitioner sent representations protestingthat he was entirely innocent and had been falsely implicated. Hesaid that he was not even in the police station when Sukhai died, ashe had gone to the courts at Tis Hazari for some official work, and itwas so recorded by Jahangiri Lal himself in the daily diary of the Police Station. Nevertheless, the petitioner was suspended on 11/10/1965 and ordered to be prosecuted. -He was charged with havingcommitted an offence under section 342 of the Indian Penal Code inthat he wrongfully confined Sukhai.
(54) By a judgment dated 13/11/1967, the Sessions Courtacquitted all the accused giving them the benefit of the doubt. Respecting the case against the petitioner, it was held that, in the circumstances, the mere summoning of Sukhai to the police station did notamount to wrongfully confining him. But some comments were madeagainst the petitioner. Consequently, the petitioner filed a petitionin this court for having those observations expunged, and also maintained that as there was no case made out against him at all he wasentitled to a 'clear acquittal' and not merely the benefit of the doubt.By an order of 25/04/1969, the late Mr. Justice Om Prakashallowed the petition in part. Some of the passages complained of inthe judgment of the Sessions Judge were expunged, and it was declared that the petitioner was entitled to a 'clear acquittal'. The Judgealso said : 'There is not an iota of evidence on record that the petitioner had wrongfully confined Sukhai', and that : 'The petitionercould not be held responsible for what had happened in the policestation in his absence when he was away to the courts'.
(55) According to the petitioner this whole episode was the resultof the machinations of certain police officers who were inimical to himand wished to help Jahangiri Lal, the real culprit. To support hisversion, the petitioner has referred to various features of the aftermathOn his acquittal by the Sessions Court, the petitioner was entitled tobe reinstated with effect from the date on which he had been suspended. But by a letter dated 19/12/1967 the Deputy Inspector General of Police reinstated the petitioner only with effect from the date of his acquittal, i.e. 13/11/1967. It was added thatthis was 'without prejudice to any departmental action that may betaken'. The petitioner was also informed that 'orders regarding payand allowances for the entire period he remained under suspensionwill be issued after scrutiny of the judgment at a later date'. A copy ofthis letter was endorsed to the Superintendent of Police (North) for'taking similar action in respect of S. 1. Jahangiri Lal'.
(56) In striking contrast, Jahangiri Lal was reinstated with effectfrom the initial date of his suspension in 1965. This appears froma letter dated 16/01/1968 written by the. Superintendent of Police. It was also ordered that 'the period spent under suspensionwill count towards duty for all purposes'. In the endorsement ofthis letter to the Deputy Inspector-General it was said : 'The sub inspector has been reinstated from the date of suspension as the prosecuting Deputy Superintendent of Police, Delhi, has opined that no departmental action is warranted against him in the face of his acquittal by the Sessions Judge'. Naturally, the petitioner protested thathe, too, ought to have been reinstated with effect from the initial dateof his suspension. He sent a representation dated 29/01/1968 to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police. Nearly two and ahalf years went by before the position was rectified. By a letter dated 29/05/1970, the Deputy Inspector-General reinstated the petitioner from the date of his suspension, i.e. 11/10/1965, andalso ordered that 'he will draw all the emoluments had he not beenplaced under suspension'.
(57) The relevant entry in the Service Book of the petitioner wasstill not corrected for another two years. When the petitioner wassuspended, an entry to that effect was made in his Service Book andthe date was also recorded. After he was first reinstated with effectfrom the date of his acquittal, an entry showing the date of reinstatement was made. Later, when he was reinstated with effect from theinitial date of his suspension, the Service Book was not corrected.That it had not been corrected till 12/05/1972 appears from aletter written by the Account Officer in the office of the AccountantGeneral, Central Revenues, Delhi, to the Superintendent of Police,South District, New Delhi. With this letter the Service Book of the petitioner was returned, and one of the remarks' made was that : 'Theentry regarding the reinstatement noted in the Service Book lias notbeen revised to give effect from 10-10-1965 instead of 12-11-1967. The needful may be done now'. From another letter dated 30thJanuary, 1973 written by the same Account Officer to the sameSuperintendent of Police it appears that though the date of reinstatement had been corrected, it had still not 'been attested by the competent authority'. The Service Book has been produced before me. It is apparent that the date of reinstatement originally written hasbeen over-written so as to read 11-10-1965'. Both the original writing and the over-writing are in. ordinary blue-black ink. This overwritten date has then been scored out with red ink, and the date10-10-1965' is written above it. also in red ink. But, even today the words along side read : 'Reinstated, from the date of acquittal andtransferred to lines'.
(58) I think it is uhdeniable that the petitioner may have beenprejudiced by the matters I have mentioned when selections weremade in 1970 and 1972. At the time of the selection in 1970 the petitioner had still not been reinstated with effect from the date ofhis suspension. It is possible that the selection committee may havethought that he had been reinstated only from the date of his acquittal because something had been found against him. Although, whenthe selection was made in 1972, the petitioner had been reinstatedfrom the date of his suspension, his Service Book still did not recordthe true state of the facts. As I have already pointed out, even todaythe statement in the entry is wrong. And, it is admitted, that theService Book is always put before the selection committee.
(59) Notwithstanding the fact that this court had declared thatthe petitioner was entitled to a 'clear acquittal', a departmental enquirywas started against the petitioner on 19/11/1969. The petitioner has contended that this inquiry was ordered in total violation of P.P.R. 16.3. According to sub-rule I of that rule 'when apolice officer has been tried and acquitted by a criminal court heshall not be punished departmentally on the same charge or on adifferent charge upon the evidence cited in the criminal case, whether actually led or not', except in certain specified cases. It was urgedby the petitioner that none of the exceptions applied. In the affidavitof the Inspector-General of Police it is stated that the inquiry wasordered by Mr. H. C. Jatav, Superintendent of Police (South). Thisenabled the petitioner to raise a further point that the departmentalinquiry was illegal as it had been commenced without the sanction ofthe Deputy Inspector-General as was required for inquiries againstUpper Subordinates by P.P.R. 16.3(2). On behalf of the Administration it was argued that the departmental inquiry against the petitionerhad been ordered under P.P.R. 16.38(6). That rule provides for theholding of an inquiry In cases in which strictures are passed on theconduct of the police by a Sessions Court or by a magistrate's courtand no specific recommendation is made by the court making suchstrictures that an inquiry should be made............'. I need not delve into any of these questions because in the present case I amnot required to rule on the legality of the inquiry. It is sufficientfor my purpose to note that a departmental inquiry was started againstthe petitioner. He alleges that the ulterior object of starting the inquirywas to ensure that he was not selected ' for promotion to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in February 1970. At first, hesays, he protested against the holding of the inquiry; but, later, whenhe realised that proceedings were being deliberately delayed, he askedfor the proceedings to be expedited as the selection committee wasdue to meet shortly.
(60) A preliminary inquiry was then held and evidence wasrecorded. On 3/01/1970, the Inquiry Officer submitted hisreport. He said that there was no material available on record on the basis of which a charge could be laid against the petitioner. He,therefore, recommended that the inquiry bedropped and the petitionerbe exonerated. The selection committee was due to meet on 23rd/ 24/02/1970. So there was yet enough time for a decision be taken on the report of the Inquiry Officer before the selectioncommittee met. But no decision was taken. It was delayed by abouta year and a half. The final decision came in the form of a memorandum dated 21/05/1971 issued by the Superintendent of Police(South) saying that the inquiry against the petitioner 'may be closed'.No Explanationn has been furnished by the Administration why the decision should have taken so long. thereforee, I have no optionbut to conclude that the delay was unjustified.
(61) It is not known whether the fact that a departmental inquirywas pending against the petitioner was made known to the selection committee which sat in February 1970. Unless the possibility ofthat being mentioned to them were completely excluded, the harmwhich the continued existence of the inquiry may have done to thechances of the petitioner for promotion remains real. I think the petitioner's apprehension that this circumstance adversely affectedhim is not without foundation.
(62) On a number of occasions after the death of Sukhai, adverseremarks were recorded in the confidential reports of the petitioner. Bya memorandum dated 15/09/1965, the petitioner was informed that the following remarks had been made in his confidentialreport for the period from 1/04/1964 to 15/02/1965 :
'INthe confidential report of Shri Avtar Singh No. D-26 forthe period of 1-4-1964 to 15-2-1965 it has been mentioned that he is honest and loyal. His working experience of criminal law and procedure is good, but heis a tactless S.H.O. and his control ever his start wastax.'
In respect of the adverse portion of these remarks, the petitionersubmitted a representation to the Deputy Inspector-General of Policeon 25/01/1966. He pointed out that although the period towhich the report pertained had ended four months before the deathof Sukhai, yet the reporting officer had apparently allowed himself to be affected by that subsequent incident whilst appraising the work of the petitioner for an earlier period. The petitioner vented his viewthat the report had been written sometime after the death of Sukhai,and complained that the adverse remarks had been communicatedto him eight months after the close of the period to which theyrelated. I have seen the original confidential report, and it is clearthere from that the adverse remarks were recorded by the DeputyInspector-General in August 1965. No action was taken on the representation submitted by the petitioner.
(63) After he was acquitted by the Sessions Court, the petitionersubmitted another representation on 29/01/1968 for expunction of the adverse remarks. By a memorandum dated 28/03/1968, the petitioner was informed that his representation had 'beenkept pending till the receipt of A.D.M.'s report'. For the next five years the petitioner continued to send representations and reminders.Ultimately, by a letter dated 28/05/1973, the Assistant InspectorGeneral of Police informed the petitioner that the adverse remarkshad been expunged. Thus, though they were later expunged, theadverse remarks existed on the Personal File of the petitioner when selections were made in 1970 and 1972. They must have influencedthe selection committee, because it was admitted that the PersonalFile was looked into when considering an officer for promotion.
(64) Adverse remarks were also made against the petitioner in his confidential report for the period 15/02/1965 to 14/07/1965. These remarks were communicated to the petitioner on 2 6/11/1966. They were as follows :-
'THEREwas no complaint about his honesty and his character is good. His relations with his subordinates were notpleasant. However, his control over the crime was satisfactory. He is under suspension in connection with thedeath of a person who was called at P.S. by him improperly who later died at the police station.'
It will be noticed that these remarks were communicated to the petitioner sixteen months after the end of the period respecting whichthey were made.
(65) On 1/03/1967, the petitioner submitted a representationseeking to have these adverse remarks expunged. He sent reminderson 14/12/1967 and 18/03/1968. In a reply dated 25/06/1968 the Superintendent of Police (South) informed the petitioner 'that the acquittal judgment has left adverse comments for which an inquiry is going on. The question of expunction of adverseremarks does not arise, till the decision of the inquiry is over'. Thematter rested there for the next two years. Then by a letter dated11th August, 1970 the petitioner was informed that the adverse remarks had been expunged, and the 'category of the report (had) also been changed from 'C' to 'B' '. This was ter the selection hadbeen made in February 1970. At that time both the adverse remarksand the lower category of the confidential report subsisted.
(66) Again, in the confidential report for the period 1/07/1969 to 31/03/1970, adverse remarks were made against the petitioner. They were communicated to him by a letter of 15/06/1970. The remarks were as follows :-
INthe confidential report of Inspector Avtar Singh No. D-1/95for the period from 1-7-1969 to 31-3-1970, it is mentionedthat there is no complaint against his honesty, andhis moral character is good. In his attitude towards subordinates and relations with fellow officers he is a littlesulky, and needs improvement. A capable and experienced officer. General reputation amongst subordinates somewhat tarnished as seldom assumes responsibility. He is not very energetic in law and order duties.It is a miracle that Inspector Avtar Singh has survivedin one piece, despite all that he has undergone in thelast few years in the wake of his prosecution on a murdercharge. I feel he is collecting himself and deserves a handfrom all of us in this process.'
A representation for having these adverse remarks expunged was madeby the petitioner on 8/07/1970. More than a year afterwards, by a letter dated 1/09/1971, he was informed that thesentence It is a miracle that Inspector Avtar Singh has survived inone piece, despite all that he has undergone in the last few years inthe wake of his prosecution on a murder charge' had been expunged.It was added : The officer may please be advised to take the restof the remarks recorded in his annual confidential report in thecorrect spirit and try to improve'.
(67) In respect of the other adverse remarks which still remained,the petitioner continued to make representations. In particular, he made a representation dated 4/08/1973. This representationwas rejected by a letter dated 19/09/1975 sent to the petitioner whilst the proceedings here were pending. One of the reliefswhich the petitioner has prayed for is the expunction of those remaining adverse remarks. I will deal with this matter separately a little afterwards. For the present it is to be noticed that the adverse remarks for the period 1/07/1969 to 31/03/1970 must obviouslyhave been recorded much after February 1970 and, could not, thereforee, have influenced the selections then made. One sentence was expunged in September 1971, and hence it could not have affectedthe selection committee which met in June 1972. Consequently,unless it be found that the adverse remarks which still remain oughtto have been expunged, the confidential report for this period wouldnot have affected either the selection in 1970 or that of 1972.
(68) Lastly, in the confidential report for the period 1/04/1970 to 1/10/1970, the following remarks were made, andcommunicated to the petitioner by a letter dated 10/06/1971 :-
INthe confidential report of Inspector Avtar Singh No. D-1/95for the period from 1-4-1970 to 21-10-1970, it ismentioned that he is a honest officer. His moral characteris good. He has shown improvement in his attitude towardssubordinates and relations with fellow officers. He isextremely shrewed and experienced police officer, whoknows his job well. He has to further develep confidencein his subordinate staff for better relations.'
Since the. last sentence was unfavorable to the petitioner, he senta representation about it on 23/10/1971. Reminders were sent on 23/07/1972, 7/09/1972 and 13/03/1973.In reply he received letters dated 11/02/1972 and 16/06/1972 saying that the matter was under consideration and that whena dedsion was arrived at it would be communicated to him. Eventually, by the letter of 28/05/1973, to which I have already referred, the petitioner was informed that the offending sentence had been expunged. But, it was there in June 1972, and may possibly haveinfluenced the selection committee.
(69) Counsel for the petitioner showed me an office memorandumNo. 1/3/65-Estt (D) dated 20/02/1967 issued by the Ministry' of Home Affairs, Government of India. It was not disputed thatthe instructions contained in this memorandum were applicable to thecase of the petitioner. In paragraph 3 of this memorandum it is said that all representations against adverse remarks 'should bedecided expeditiously by the competent authority, and in any casenot later than six weeks from the date of submission of the representation'. Those who dealt with the petitioner's representations wereeither unaware or unmindful of this instruction. The petitioner's representations were dealt with at leisure, and an Explanationn for thedelay has not even been ventured. But, let that be. What is more important is the decision incorporated in the first sentence of paragraph 2of the memorandum that when adverse remarks are toned down orexpunged the case 'should be scrutinised by the appointing authority with a view to deciding whether or not a review by the D.P.C. isjustified taking into account the nature of the adverse remarks toneddown or expunged'. Admittedly, that has not been done 'n the petitioner's case.
(70) Counsel for Delhi Administration tried to contend on thebasis of R. L. Butail vs. Union of India and others. 1970 S.L.R. 926 that reconsideration of the petitioner's case was not necessary although the adverse remarks had later been expunged. Thatcase is easily distinguishable because there the representations againstthe adverse remarks were rejected, and thus the position had notchanged. In Mallinath Jain vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi andothers, 1973 (1) S.L.R. 413, a Division Bench of this court distinguishedit on that very ground. Before the Division Bench therewas a memorandum containing the following instruction :(iv) If on representation against adverse remarks, the competent authority decides to expunge or tone down theadverse remarks, the concerned officer's case may be revised by the Departmental Promotions Committee, ifit is referred to it by the competent authority.'The Division Bench thought that this instruction was intended to ensurefair play and give effect to the principles of natural justice. The courtthan said :-
'NOdoubt, it is stated in clause (iv) of the office memorandum,referred to above that where there has been toning downthe case (may be revised) by the Departmental Promotions Committee 'if it is referred to it by the competentauthority'. It has to be noted that the word 'may' hasbeen used with reference to the revision by the Departmental Promotions Committee and that, so far as thecompetent authority is concerned, the words used are 'ifit is referred to it by'. Having regard to the importanceof the toning down of the adverse remarks and to thebeneficial purpose of the provisions relating to adverse remarks, it seems to us that the words 'if it is referred'do not give any discretion to the competent authority.In our opinion, the provision in the clause means thatso far as the competent authority is concerned he is torefer the fact of toning down to the DepartmentalPromotions Committee, and on such reference theDepartmental Promotions Committee is given thediscretion to revise or not the case of the officer concerned, which discretion, of course, has to be exercisedby the Departmental Promotions Committee in a judicialmanner. We are, thereforee, of the view that in view ofthe toning down of the adverse remarks, the case of the petitioner ought to have been referred again by the Commissioner to the Departmental Promotions Committee andthe Union Public Service Commission.'
(71) The instruction contained in paragraph 2 of the memorandumshown to me, and to which I have referred above, is substantiallysimilar to the one which was before the Division Bench. I recognisethat the phraseology used tends to give the impression that the appointing authority has a discretion , decide 'whether or not' there should be a review by the Departmental Promotions Committee; but,I think. for the same reasons as given by the Division Bench, thatthere is no discretion. In any case, I would hold thatnatural justice requires that the petitioner's case be reconsidered asthe adverse remarks against him were expunged. The petitioner'scase is stronger than that which was before the Division Bench, because there the adverse remarks were only toned down. After thejudgment of the Division Bench was cited, counsel for the Administration rightly conceded that the case of' the petitioner would have to be reconsidered as at the time of the selections in 1970 and 1972,disregarding the adverse remarks which had subsequently been expunged.
(72) As a result of each and all of the conclusion's which I havestated, I hold, that the petitioner was not given a fair and properconsideration at in.' selections of 1970 and 1972, and that the rulesof natural justice were violated. He is, thereforee, entitled to bereconsidered as at those times on the basis of his record as it ought to have been in accordance with this judgment. I have not inquiredinto the allegations of mala fides made by the petitioner because I have been able to reach this finding without going into them, and hecould not have got any larger relief even supposing his allegationswere true. Nor have I dealt with the many side issues agitated by the petitioner, over which much time was spent, because on sustaineddiscussion I found them to be both irrelevant and inconclusive.
(73) One point remains to be clarified. It appears that in April975 another selection was made for promotion to the rank of DeputySuperintendent of Police. The petitioner was again rejected. 'Asthis happened long after the petitioner had filed his petition in thiscourt that selection could obviously not be attacked. So there wereno pleadings thereon. In the course of arguments, however, counselfor the Administration said that since the petitioner had been rejectedeven in 1975, much after the adverse remarks had been expunged andthe record had been righted in every way, it was reasonable to inferthat he would not have been selected earlier in 1970 or 1972, andto order a reconsideration would be pointless.
(74) I think this reasoning is specious. The extent of the competition at different times may have varied, and the considerations whichweighed with the different selection committees may not have been thesame. It may even be that because he had been passed ever twice, theselection committee in 1975 was affected by that circumstance in itself.At any rate, I do not think that, whatever the reasons may have beentor his rejection in 1975, he can thereby be deprived of his right to afair and proper consideration in the earlier years. Furthermore, aspointed out by counsel for the petitioner, even in 1975 the statement inthe Service Book of the petitioner as to the date of his reinstatement wasnot correct. It still said that he had been reinstated from the date ofhis acquittal. That statement was misleading, and could conceivablyhave given the impression to the selection committee that the petitionerwas to some degree' under a cloud. On this ground alone. I would hold, that the selection in 1975, so far as the petitioner was concernedwas again vitiated. I have stated my opinion upon the point, because itwas argued on both sides, and it would be futile to drive the parties toa further and unnecessary litigation,The remaining adverse remarks
(75) It will be recalled that not all the adverse remarks recorded in the confidential report of the petitioner for the period 1/07/1969 to 31/03/1970 were expunged. The petitioner is still aggrieved bythose that remain, and lias prayed that the expunged by thiscourt. There are three such remarks :
(I)In his attitude towards subordinates and relations withfellow officers he is a little sulky and needs improvement.
(II)General reputation amongst subordinates somewhat ternishedas seldom assumes responsibility.
(III)He is not very energetic in law and order duties.'
The petitioner was under the impression that these remarks, as alsothe sentence It is a miracle that Inspector Avtar Singh has survivedin one piece, despite all that he has undergone in the last few years inthe wake of his prosecution on a murder charge' which was expungedin September 1971, were all written by Mr. H. C. Jatav, Superintendentof Police, South District. New Delhi. thereforee, he attributed all theseremarks to the animosity which Mr. Jatav allegedly bore towards him-But on looking at the original confidential report, it transpired that theposition was rather different.
(76) The manner in which annual confidential reports are to beprepared is prescribed in P.P.R. 13.17(1). That rule says : 'Superintendents shall prepare and submit annually to the Deputy Inspector-General, after obtaining the District Magistrate's remarks thereon,reports in form 13.17 on the working of all Upper Subordinates servingunder them'. Thus, three different persons record their views in theconfidential report. The remarks enumerated as (i) and (ii) above weremade by Mr. H. C. Jatav. The remark enumerated as (iii) was recorded by the District Magistrate. And, the sentence which has alreadybeen expunged, was written by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police.
(77) In this state of affairs, the argument on behalf of the petitionerthat the three adverse remarks which still remain were inspired bywhat was expressly stated in the remark which was expunged, is untenable. The Deputy Inspector-General of Police may have been thinking of the prosecution against the petitioner whilst writing his report,but there is no reason to think that Mr. Jatav or the District Magistratehad the same matter in mind when they wrote theirs. Indeed, both ofthem had made their comments before the report was sent to the DeputyInspector-General. Nor do I find any material on record from which it can reasonably be concluded that the remarks made by Mr. Jatavwere prompted by any improper motive. It seems clear to me that the petitioner was labouring under the wrong impression that the entirereport had been written by Mr. Jatav, and, thereforee, concentrated hisattack on him. But, it turns out, that it was wholly misconceived.
(78) For the rest, it was argued that the petitioner was a first-rateofficer who had been awarded many cash rewards and commendatorycertificates during his career, and that the adverse remarks which still stood were unjustified. The reports made by other reportingofficers about the petitioner at various times were quoted insupport of this submission. But these are not valid grounds forexpunging adverse remarks, as it is well established that 'This courtcannot substitute its own opinion for that of the appropriate authoritywho has to judge the working of a public servant and write the confidential report' : See Kirpal Singh Officiating Assistant Sub-Inspector ofPolice vs. The State of Punjab and others, 1969 S.L.R. 120. Norwas it necessary that the adverse remarks should have recited the specific instances on which they were based : See R. L. Butail vs. Union ofIndia and others, 1970 S.L.R. 926. If such were the requirement, it would be impossible to write a confidential report withoutmaintaining a dossier for every subordinate. Understandably, P.P.R.13.17(5) enjoins reporting officers to 'comment generally'. The resultis that I do not find any grounds for expunging the remaining adverseremarks.
(79) This concludes the discussion on the points arising in the case.In the course of arguments, counsel for the petitioner urged me to take'serious notice' of certain incorrect statements alleged to have been madein the affidavit sworn by Mr. Bhawani Mal, Inspector-General of Police,Delhi. It is true that two or three statements made in that affidavit areinaccurate or wrong. In particular, the statement in paragraph 2 of theaffidavit that respondents 23 to 43 'are all senior to the petitioner in every respect' was proved to be wrong from the seniority list of confirmed Inspectors as on 1/07/1974 filed by the petitioner, the correctness of which was not disputed. However, I am not persuaded that anymis-statement was deliberately made or that there was any sinister intention. The way the petition is drafted it is so confusing that I cannot blamethe deponent of the affidavit for having been confounded. And, besides,as I have said already, there was much confusion prevailing in theAdministration as regards the principles for determining seniority. Inthe circumstances, I do not think that the mis-statements call for anyfurther notice.
(80) In view of the conclusions which I have reached, this petitioneris allowed to this extent that I make an order in the nature of mandamus directing Delhi Administration and the Union of India-
(A)to consider the petitioner for confirmation as Sub-Inspectoras on 17/10/1956, and on every subsequent occasionon which an Assistant Sub-Inspector junior to him wasconfirmed as Sub-Inspector; and dependent upon the resultthereof, to give him all such consequential benefits to whichhe may be entitled ; and (B)after ensuring that the record pertaining to the petitioneris in all respects accurate and complete, to refer hiscase to the selection committee for consideration againwhether he ought to have been promoted to the rank ofDeputy Superintendent of Police when selections weremade in February 1970 and June 1972. Before doing so,the entry in his Service Book regarding the date of his reinstatement will be corrected.
These directions will be fully implemented within three months fromtoday. In fixing time for compliance I have been guided by the courseadopted in State of Mysore vs. C. R. Seshadri & Ors., 1974 (1) S.L.R.407. Having regard to the entire circumstances of the case, I will leave the parties to bear their own costs.