New Delhi: Four decades on, a deceased police officer from Himachal Pradesh has received his due, with the Supreme Court declaring him promoted and entitled to all the benefits as an IPS.
Deciding a petition by the widow of the decorated officer, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued a "declaration that late Chunni Lal Sharma was a member of the Indian Police Service (IPS) of the Himachal Pradesh cadre from the year 1977”.
The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh each on the Himachal Pradesh government and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for causing harassment to the officer and his widow, who kept fighting for his promotion that became due 42 years ago.
"The entire exercise undertaken and the litigations that resulted were wholly avoidable and unnecessary, had due vigilance, care and caution been exercised by the State as well as the Public Service Commission," said the bench.
It added: "Instead Chunni Lal Sharma passed away in the year 2015 without seeing fruits of the litigation that he had initiated and fought for over two decades, leaving his widow to pursue the efforts made in this regard by the deceased."
The bench held that Sharma was wrongly denied the promotion to the IPS despite his entitlement since 1977.
"Instead what had happened is a complete lack of oversight on the part of the State as well as the Public Service Commission in taking note of the fact that the Selection Committee in its meeting dated 29th December, 1981, had recommended the case of late Chunni Lal Sharma for promotion to the Indian Police Service and they also fixed his seniority," noted the court.
The bench gave four weeks to the authorities for granting all consequential reliefs in terms of pay, increments, pension and other retiral benefits from 1977 to his widow.
This case has witnessed a unique exercise when the court directed the state government to recreate 45-year-old appraisal records of the deceased Deputy Superintendent of Police, who was also decorated with police medals in 2015.
By a favourable judgment in 2009, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had directed the UPSC to juggle its seniority list.
However, it was not done for years to come and Sharma passed away in the meantime. When his wife filed a contempt petition before the High Court for implementation of the order, authorities cited loss of ACRs between 1971 and 1976.
The High Court finally ruled in favour of Sharma's promotion, which made the UPSC come in appeal to the top court.