New Delhi, Aug 31 : Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla has told the Supreme Court that the Central government went through with ad hoc promotions of its staff, based on their seniority without looking at their status of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, to meet exigencies.
In a response to a contempt notice, Bhalla said: “This was done to meet the exigencies of government service without violating any order of this court and on the basis of the written opinion of the Attorney General (AG) of India.”
Bhalla was holding an additional charge of Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training during October 1, 2020 to January 24, 2021.
He said that on the AG’s opinion, ad hoc promotions to the Senior Selection (Director) Grade of the CSS were made on December 11, 2020 and January 8, 2021, purely by selecting candidates according to their position in the seniority list without the SC/ST status being looked at.
“No reservation of posts was made in these ad hoc promotions and no rights whatsoever were created in favour of those promoted,” he added in his response.
“Unfortunately, the petitioner (Debanand Sahoo) has not disclosed the fact these promotions were made purely on basis of existing seniority in the lower post and on an ad hoc basis with the condition that they would be liable to be reverted at any time until regular promotions were made, and without conferring any rights whatsoever in favour of those promoted.”
The response further added that these ad hoc promotions were also subject to the condition that those promoted would have no rights whatsoever and would be subject to any orders passed by the top court.
Sahoo had filed the contempt petition against Bhalla and others for violation of the top court’s order of April 15, 2019.
Citing the top court’s judgment in ‘Jarnail Singh and Ors Vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta and Ors’, delivered on January 28 this year, Bhalla said pursuant to this judgment and the AG’s opinion, regular promotions have been carried out satisfying the conditions set out in the case of ‘M Nagaraj and Ors Vs Union of India and Ors’ (2006) as well as the judgment in Jarnail Singh case.
In the Jarnail Singh (2022) judgment, the top court set out the conditions for regular promotions.
Bhalla said: “The petitioner is also one amongst the persons who was granted regular promotion. In this background, it is submitted that no contempt arises at all and the petitioner has filed this petition by not disclosing the fact that a large number of vacancies continued for substantial period of time in various departments of the government, which caused serious adverse effect on the functioning of government.”
The apex court, on April 9, had sought response from Bhalla on Sahoo’s contempt petition, filed through advocate Kumar Parimal.
In April 2019, the top court had issued direction to maintain status quo in connection with promotion of the officers. In July 2022, the DoPT made an application for permission to grant ad hoc promotion, which was declined by the apex court.