V. Ramaswami, J.
1. This is a petition for the issue of a writ of certiorarified mandamus to quash the order of the Commissioner of Income-tax dated 20th January, 1975, relating to the petitioner's confidential report for the year 1973-74, as confirmed by the order of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, dated 16th August, 1975.
2. Though a long affidavit, followed by an equally long counter-affidavit, has been filed in this case, the short point that is raised relates to certain adverse remarks made against the petitioner in this confidential report for 1973-74. The Inspector of Income-tax, attached to the Income-tax Officer, Salary Circle, as a Reporting Officer, sent a report relating to the petitioner in Part I of the form prescribed for confidential report for Upper Division Clerks, in respect of 1973-74. In the column under the heading 'Amenability to Discipline', the Reporting Officer remarked 'Disputatious'. Part II of the form prescribed relates to the remarks of the Income-tax Officer. The Income-tax Officer, in whose office the petitioner was working, agreed with the remarks of the Reporting Officer. Those remarks were counter-signed by the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income-tax, on 26th April, 1974. As required by the Rules and instructions relating to confidential reports, in his letter dated 27th April, 1974, the Inspecting Assistant, Commissioner of Income-tax, Range V, Madras, communicated the adverse remarks made against the petitioner in the column 'Amenability to discipline' and the petitioner was asked to make his representations, if any, within one month of the receipt of the letter, to the Appellate Authority, who is the Commissioner of Income-tax. The petitioner preferred an appeal on 7th May, 1974, in which he contended that the remark was vague and that it is not based on facts. The Commissioner of Income-tax, in his proceedings dated 20th January, 1975, after going through the representations of the petitioner and also the relevant papers, agreed with the view that the petitioner is not really amenable to discipline, but the better remark in such circumstances would be to call it 'not satisfactory' instead of 'disputatious'. Accordingly, he modified the remarks from 'disputatious' to 'not satisfactory'. The petitioner preferred a review petition before the Commissioner of Income-tax himself. That was dismissed. The petitioner purported to file a further revision petition to the Central Board of Direct Taxes through the proper channel, but the petitioner was informed that since no further review or revision is maintainable, his papers had been withheld. Subsequently, not satisfied with those, the petitioner filed another revision petition to the Central Board of Direct Taxes through the Commissioner of Income-tax, with an advance copy to the Central Board of Direct Taxes. On receipt of such advance copy, the Board seems to have dealt with the matter on merits and rejected the petition and this was communicated to the petitioner in the Commissioner's proceedings dated 10th August, 1975. Thereafter, this writ petition has been filed questioning the validity of the order of the Commissioner refusing to delete the adverse remarks in the confidential report.
3. Two points were urged by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. It was contended that so far as the ministerial officers attached to Income-tax Offices are concerned, the Reporting Officer is the Income-tax Officer, and that therefore, the report sent by the Inspector of Income-tax, which contained the remarks 'disputatious', is without jurisdiction. In support of this contention, he referred to the provisions in Chapter VI and Annexure II in the Office Manual, Volume II of the Central Board of Revenue, Income-tax Department. That publication which was relied on, is of the year 1955. The learned senior standing counsel brought to my notice that subsequently sometime in April, 1967, there was a Commissioners' conference and in that conference, it was decided to modify the Confidential Character Rule form which contained two parts. In the letter dated 30th July, 1909, the Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras, wrote a letter to the Secretary, Central Board of Direct Taxes, inviting his attention to the decision taken in the conference and pointed out that while the forms as at present require Part II to be filled up by the Income-tax Officer, it has not been made clear about the identity of the Reporting Officer who fills Part I of the form. He further added that it was presumed, as decided in the conference, that this Part I will have to be filled up by the Supervisor/Head Clerk/Inspector under whom the clerk concerned had worked during the period to which the entries relate. The Central Hoard of Direct Taxes in their letter dated 5th August, 1909, in reply to the letter of the Commissioner of Income-tax, stated that the presumption of the Commissioner made in that letter is correct and they have also directed that the words 'Head Clerk/Supervisor' may be added after the words 'signature of the Reporting Officer' at the end of Part 1 when the forms arc cyclostyled or printed. It is in these circumstances, that Part I is filled up by the 'Reporting Officer, who are either Head Clerks/Supervisors or Inspectors of Income tax, under whom directly the concerned ministerial clerk had worked. In the present case, therefore, the report of the Inspector of Income-tax, so far as the petitioner is concerned, made in Part I of the form prescribed, is in order and in accordance with the Rules relating to the confidential reports.
4. It is then contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that under paragraph 4(iv) of Chapter VI, in cases where an Upper Division Clerk had worked under more than one Reporting Officer during a year, separate confidential reports by each Reporting Officer, under whom the clerk had worked for over three months, should have been sent. In this case, according to the petitioner, he had worked under one Inspector of Income-tax for the period from June to November, 1973, and subsequently, under another Inspector of Income-tax and that therefore, two reports should have been sent whereas there is only one report and that makes the confidential report illegal. I cannot agree with this contention of the learned Counsel. It is true, that paragraph 4(iv) of Chapter VI requires separate confidential reports by each Reporting Officer under whom the cleric had worked for over three months. If only one officer had made any report when the person had worked under more than one officer, it shall be presumed that the other officer had no adverse remarks to be made against the clerk. The Income-tax Officer, while filling Part II and the counter-signing officer while countersigning the report of the Income-tax Officer, should have taken note of the fact that only one Inspector of Income-tax, under whom the petitioner had worked, had made that adverse remark and the other Inspector had no remarks to offer against the petitioner. Beyond this, the petitioner cannot claim that each one should make a report actually. Since the respondents had not relied on any adverse remarks of any other officer except the one sent by the Inspector of Income-tax, under whom he worked subsequent to November, 1973, the petitioner can have no grievance on the ground that the other officer had not sent any remarks.
5. It was then contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that every Reporting Officer should make an objective assessment of his subordinate's work and qualities and that adverse remarks should be made only when the defects have persisted despite the Reporting Officer's effort to have it corrected. According to the learned Counsel, the Reporting Officer never informed the petitioner of his disputatious character or asked him to correct himself before he made that entry and that therefore, the entry made was not in accordance with the instructions given in Chapter VI. I am unable to agree with this contention of the learned Counsel. It is true, normally when defects are found in the ministerial staff, the head of the office or the officer under whom a person works, wants him to correct himself. But, we have to keep in mind that those confidential reports are the subjective satisfaction of the officer concerned, though normally one is expected to come to that satisfaction on an objective assessment of the work of the subordinate. Even so, this Court exercising its power under Article 226 of the Constitution, cannot sit in judgment over the remarks of the officer, as a subjective satisfaction is not open to objective tests by this Court. The officer, when he made the remarks, therefore, should have been satisfied about the need for making such entry by an observance of the conduct of the petitioner during the period he worked under him and it could not have been on the basis of a particular instance or a stray incident. It is also not necessary in all cases that there should be a warning before making any remarks in the confidential reports. Warning comes in by way of communication of the adverse remarks. Though an officer is expected to observe the conduct of the person for some time before he makes the remarks, since a responsible officer had made an entry and that depended on the subjective satisfaction of that officer, I cannot interfere on the ground that there was no earlier instance pointed out where this disputatious behaviour was noticed or warned.
6. In the foregoing circumstances, 1 could not interfere with the order of the Income-tax Officer or the counter-signing Officer or the Commissioner of Income-tax. I need only observe that being a service matter and having regard to the consequence of such an entry, the petitioner seems to have resorted to the filing of the writ petition in this Court, and this, I have no doubt, will not be taken into account by the department in assessing the merit of the petitioner for any future promotional chances.
7. The writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.