SC Quashes Remarks on IAS Ashok Khemka’s PAR, Directs to Resolve Pending Representation

Ashok Khemka

In a relief to Senior IAS Officer Dr. Ashok Khemka, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside remarks made by the Accepting Authority (State Chief Minister) regarding his Performance Appraisal Report (PAR) for the period April 2016 to March 2017. The court directed that the officer’s pending representation with the State government be decided.

A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma heard the Haryana government’s challenge to a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that set aside CM ML Khattar’s remarks and overall grade regarding Khemka’s PAR.

To summarize, Khemka, a 1991 batch Indian Administrative Services Officer, served as Principal Secretary to the Government of Haryana in the Science and Technology Department from April 8, 2016, to March 31, 2017. The Accepting Authority made critical remarks in his PAR, questioning the justification behind the Reviewing Authority’s positive evaluation. Khemka raised concerns under Rule 9(2) and 9(7B) of the All India Services (PAR) Rules, but received no response.

In 2018, Khemka approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh, arguing that the remarks were time-barred, and since his representation remained unresolved, the Reviewing Authority’s views should prevail. The Tribunal rejected his plea, prompting Khemka to appeal to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which overturned the remarks and overall grade given by the Accepting Authority.

The High Court reinstated the Reviewing Authority’s opinion and overall grade, observing that the Accepting Authority’s remarks were unfounded. It noted that although constraints were mentioned, the professional integrity of officers like Khemka needed protection.

In response to the High Court order, the Haryana government challenged the decision. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Khemka, setting aside the remarks made by the Accepting Authority.

After pronouncing the judgment, Justice Satish Chandra Sharma inquired about Khemka’s presence in the Court. Although Khemka was absent, the Judge acknowledged his arguments, indicating the significance of his representation. This remark is noteworthy considering Khemka’s constraints in engaging with the Supreme Court Registry and seeking clarification regarding Supreme Court Rules, 2013, from then CJI Bobde.

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