GUWAHATI: The contentious legal wrangling in Assam to ascertain ‘if a deputy commissioner can write the ACR (annual confidential report) of an SP (IPS) or not’ has come to an end. The Supreme Court of India has made it clear that a DC does not have the power to write the ACR of an SP in his district.
In Assam, the government has given the DCs the power to write the ACRs, or annual performance appraisal reports (APARs), of SPs. Representatives of IPS officers challenged this power of the DCs in the Gauhati High Court. And the High Court gave its ruling in favour of the IPS officers. The State government then moved the Supreme Court of India with a writ petition challenging the ruling of the Gauhati High Court.
The division bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sanjay Kumar dismissed the appeal filed by the Assam Government against the judgement of the Gauhati High Court that had declared Rules 63(iii) of the Assam Manual invalid on the ground that ‘it is in direct conflict with Section 14(2) of the Assam Police Act, 2007 for allowing a DC to write the annual confidence report or annual performance appraisal report on an SP’.
The Supreme Court said that even though an SP works under the general control and directions of a DC and obeys his or her instruction that does not place the IPS officer under the hierarchical supremacy of that IAS officer or state civil service officer.
The bench further said that all India Service Rules, 1970 and 2007, define reporting, reviewing, and accepting authorities to mean that they must all be from the same service or department. So, intervention by a DC during exercise of SPs of the districts in Assam, by virtue of Rules 63(iii) of the manual, cannot be countenance. Section 14(2) of the Act of 2007 Rules makes it clear that the DC would not have the power to interfere with the internal organization of the police in a district.
The apex court observed that when liberty has been given to the SP to disagree with the deputy commissioner on any point relating to police administration and seek resolutions of such a difference in opinion through the DC and, thereafter, the IGP, it would be a parody to subject the performance assessment of such an SP to the same DC with whom he or she had disagreed.