New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh government has been tasked with an extraordinary assignment — to recreate 45-year-old appraisal records of a deceased police officer.
The Supreme Court has directed the Chief Secretary of the state government to have all relevant records rummaged, collect pertinent inputs and rebuild the appraisal reports of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, who was also decorated with police medals in 2015.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi gave four weeks to the Chief Secretary to do the needful and present the reports before the court pertaining to annual confidential reports of Deputy SP Chuni Lal Sharma for the years between 1971 and 1976. “We would request the Chief Secretary of the State of Himachal Pradesh to expedite the matter and lay before the court the reconstructed ACRs within a period of four weeks from today,” stated the order.
Sharma’s widow has been fighting a complex legal battle with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) after the officer’s death.
By a judgment in 2009, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had directed the UPSC to juggle its seniority list in order to accommodate Sharma after considering the date of his officiating appointment of to the duty post of DHANIPS/DHANICS, as the date of his regular appointment.
Sharma had joined the police department of the Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh in 1954 and was promoted as a deputy SP in 1965 after he was included in the list prepared under Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Police Service Rules, 1965 (DHANIPS).
In the year 1971, Himachal Pradesh became a State and he, along with other officers, were reappointed now under the HP Police Service. However, all the direct recruits were given seniority on the basis of their date of appointments under the new service.
This anomaly, which also dampened his prospect for inclusion in the Indian Police Service select list, prompted Sharma to move the High Court. The High Court ruled in his favour and ordered the UPSC to re-fix his seniority.
However, it was not done for years to come and Sharma passed away in the meantime.
His widow filed a contempt petition before the High Court for implementation of the order. In May 2017, the High Court directed the UPSC to convene a meeting of the Review Selection Committee for the select list of 1976 and grant benefits to Sharma’s widow.
It noted that loss of ACRs between 1971 and 1976 could not be an excuse to keep sitting on the issue endlessly, more so when the 2015 letter of recommendation for Sharma’s police medal recounts his career as outstanding. The High Court had added that UPSC should not drag this matter any further because the compliance with its order would result only into disbursement of monetary benefits to his widow.
However, UPSC filed an appeal against this order in the Supreme Court, citing destruction of ACRs by the state government.
At this, the court issued its order: “We direct that the exercise of exploring the possibility of reconstruction of the ACRs of the deceased Chuni Lal Sharma, husband of the respondent No.1 herein, be expedited and upon reconstruction the same be placed before the court.”