The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday ordered to expunge “adverse remarks” made by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in the annual performance appraisal report of senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka, PTI reported.
The court said Khemka’s “integrity is beyond doubt”. “We are of the view that a person of such professional integrity needs to be protected as the professional integrity in our political, social and administrative system is depleting very fast,” a division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Kuldip Singh said, according to The Indian Express.
Khemka had sought to expunge the “adverse remarks” given by Khattar in the performance appraisal report for 2016-’17 and restore an overall grade of 9.92 given by the state’s Sports and Youth Affairs minister Anil Vij, who was the reviewing authority.
Khemka, who is a 1991-batch Indian Administrative Service office, was posted for nearly 15 months in the Sports and Youth Affairs Department, headed by Vij. He was transferred earlier this month for the sixth time since 2014. Khemka was posted as Principal Secretary in the Science and Technology Department.
Khemka had approached the High Court in January, following which the court issued a notice to the Haryana government on his plea.
Vij, who was Khemka’s reviewing authority, had given the bureaucrat an overall grade of 9.92 out of 10. The minister said the officer had shown “excellent achievement” under “severe constraints”. Khattar, who was the appraisal accepting authority, rated Khemka nine out of 10 and wrote that Vij’s report on the officer was “slightly exaggerated”.
The High Court set aside Khattar’s remarks and his grading of nine and restored Vij’s grading. “We are of the view that some of the matters are better understood than said in expressed words,” the division bench said. “The severe constraints in which an honest and upright officer works under the political leadership are well known. The reviewing authority [Vij] has recorded that the petitioner is well known in the country for effective professional integrity under very difficult circumstances.”