Tuesday, 30 August 2016

In the year  1999, the govt. brought in the ACP Scheme. The object and intention of the legislature in providing ACP scheme was with the sole and only substantive objective of:  Safety Net’ to deal with the problem of genuine stagnation and hardship faced by the employees due to lack of adequate promotional avenue. JTOs/SDEs who in 1999 had completed 24 years of service from their appointment as JTOs were denied the scale of of Rs.8000-275-13500.

Frustration began to creep in many SDEs who had put in long services. Slowly Juniors started getting more than seniors, anomaly cases started creeping in and DoT/BSNL was blind to just aspirations of seniors in the Telecom wing. In due course, JEs Civil, who had completed 24 years of service since recruitment got EE scale while SDEs , who were earlier drawing more than their Civil counterparts, were still languishing in SDE scale even after 24 years of service.

In the initial years of formation of BSNL , TES Gr 'B' unions initiated proposals for relief to SDEs , who had been stagnating for years together for lack of promotional avenues. It was suggested that, as a one time relief, SDEs would be placed in the Sr. SDE grade through Cadre Review Concept by reducing the eligibility criteria from 12 years to 5 years (as approved by Telecom Commission in 1994). This proposal for placement in the existing scheme of Sr. SDE promotion appears to have been approved by Department of Telecom and discussed in the Group of Ministers before the process of absorption of Group B officers was initiated. The same appears to have been approved by the Cabinet in September, 1999 and was subsequently remitted to BSNL as the BSNL came into existence by that time. Hon’ble Minister (Communications & IT),appears to have conveyed to the unions that BSNL has agreed to the proposal, in principle.

BSNL , vide letter no. 12-14/2002-TE.I dated 21.06.2002 addressed to all Heads of Telecom Circles appeared to convey that the proposal for up-gradation of certain posts of SDEs to the scale of Rs. 8000-13500 on matching saving basis has been considered by the Management Committee of BSNL Board. The proposal was to be taken up when the salary and perks of Gr. B Officers are fixed in the IDA pay scales after their absorption in BSNL.  The committee did not touch the issue of one time placement in the Sr. SDE Scale for stagnating SDEs.

BSNL continued to show the carrot  in the form of such a proposal and when the major chunk of the TES Gr'B' officers got absorbed in April 2004, it rescinded its earlier proposals and instead set up a High Level Committee of BSNL officers to submit its recommendations on Executives’ Promotion Policy in BSNL.

Subsequently , to review the BSNL Executives’ Promotion Policy, a Committee headed by Shri Y. S. Bhave, the then Additional Secretary (T), DoT was constituted. Shri Y.Bhave did give a look at the issue  but did not give any firm directions for one time placement of SDEs with long standing service to the Sr.SDE grade. The committee gave the carrot of “SDEs to Sr. SDEs” back to BSNL and asked it to decide whether it was going to give the carrot for eating or not. It can be surmised that it was just a bait for absorption. Point to point fixation with no weightage for past service rendered or pay protection led to SDEs getting an IDA scale basic which was less than the IDA scale equivalent to the CDA scale basic which they were drawing at the time of absorption in in 2004.

Seeing a ray of hope in CAT judgements in ACP related cases, in the year 2006, 16 working SDEs who were recruited as ES/JTOs in 1972 & 1973  (belonging to Tamil Nadu Circle/Southern Telecom Region/Southern Telecom Projects and Chennai Telephones) filed TWO different  WRIT PETITIONS  WP. No. 25197/2006 and WP. No. 31398/2006 respectively in Madras High Court as there was no separate CAT in Madras at that time. After the filing, the case did not come for regular hearing for quite long time.

The prayer of the WPs was for directing the DOT/BSNL  to implement the ACP (Assured  Career Progression For The Central Government Civilian Employees) scheme, 1999 and extending the 2nd financial upgradation benefits after 24 years of service from the date of entry in the department as JTO, since the ACP Scheme was better than the existing Lateral Advancement Scheme and was more beneficial.

The crux of the argument was that ACP scheme was extended to one wing of DoT viz. the JEs in  Civil and Electrical Wing while being denied to the JEs/JTOs of the Telecom wing and this was discrimination.

In the meantime, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chennai was revived and the above two cases were transferred to CAT through TA. No. 11/2010 and TA. No.12/2010 . CAT Chennai gave a judgment in favour of the employees on  1st August 2012 with the operative part reading as

“Therefore, the contention of the respondents that the J.T.Os Telecom (Civil) and (Electrical) Wing are governed by separate service rules is not a convincing reason for denying the benefit under the ACP Scheme to the applicants and hence the orders of the respondents denying the benefit of the ACP is liable to be set aside. Accordingly the impugned order No.AST/DE/ACP/Misc/4 dated 2.3.2006 is set aside. The respondents are directed to consider the case of the applicants for extending the benefits under ACP Scheme and to grant them the benefit of ACP as extended to the similarly placed employees of JTO (Civil) and JTO (Electrical) Wing if they are otherwise eligible under the scheme within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.”

In the meantime, since there was no response from BSNL/DoT to the representations from the SDEs praying for implementation of the CAT order for grant of ACP, contempt petitions were filed in the CAT. The administration file two writs in the High Court, Madras viz WP 25694/2013 and WP 27114/2013   seeking quashing of the CAT Order. The High Court did not quash the CAT order but stayed the CAT judgment and so the contempt petitions became infructuous.

The High Court ultimately delivered its judgment on 29-03-2016 with the operative part reading

“Accordingly, we direct the Department authorities to consider the request of the contesting respondents seeking the benefits under ACP scheme, exercising it’s discretion if such scheme would be beneficial to the interest of the employees, in the light of the what we have observed above keeping in mind clause 5.1 and 13 of the office Memorandum dated 9.8.1999. Such exercise to be taken within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.”

A harmonious reading of the High Court order and the elaborate length it had dwelt on the use of discretion would safely lead to conclude that the court felt that discretion has not be used in a fair and equitable manner in the case of  directly recruited JTO Telecoms and has dwelt at length to stress this point, quoting Apex Court rulings. The Court Judgment says in no unclear terms that the “Administrative Ministry of the department concerned shall take into consideration the object of the ACP Scheme and take a decision for and on behalf of the employees.

It is for the department to take into consideration the interest of the employees and decide as to whether the ACP scheme would be beneficial to them, keeping in mind their larger interest and exercise the discretion fairly and bonafide. A harmonious reading of orders of the High Court, Madras would show that it was in fact, EMPHATICALLY, placing the onus of extending the benefit to the respondents on the administration and the administration was to use its discretion fairly and bonafide and give the benefits of the ACP Scheme to the respondents if it was beneficial to the employees.

Based on the above High Court Order, the JTOs submitted a representation by enclosing a copy of the High Court Order and requested to implement the ACP scheme and extend the financial benefits.

In the meantime DOT/BSNL, had filed WMP No. 19377/2016 and WMP No. 19378/2016 in the Madras High Court in June 2016 seeking time extension of 3 months for considering the High Court Order and extend the ACP benefits.

           Even before these came for hearing, authorities in BSNL issued identical  Speaking Orders denying grant of ACP to the respondents.

The Speaking Orders clearly mentioned that that the LAS scheme as well as the ACP scheme envisages two financial upgradations after completion of 12 & 24th year of service and therefore the ACP Scheme is in no way more beneficial to the Lateral Advancement scheme which was introduced in the year 1990.  

  This was erroneous. So the applicants have filed fresh OA's O.A.1246/2017 to OA 1255/2016 in CAT Chennai with the prayer 

(a)          To set aside the Speaking Order issued  and consequently
(b)       direct the respondents to grant the financial Upgradation under the ACP scheme upon completion of 24 years of service from the date of entry as JTO and
(c)     revise the pay of the Applicant on the date of absorption in BSNL W.e.f 01.10.2000 by fitting him in the Corresponding IDA scale of pay with all arrears and consequential benefits of promotions, pay fixation, grant of revised pension and other retirement benefits with arrears and

(d)         pass such further or other orders as this Honorable tribunal may deem fit and  proper and thus render Justice. 
The above mentioned Original Applications came before the Deputy Registrar, CAT, Chennai on 25/10/2017 and same was adjourned to 20/02/2018.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Assured Career Progression (ACP)


The Fifth Central Pay Commission in its Report has made certain recommendations relating to the Assured Career Progression (ACP) Scheme for the Central Government civilian employees in all Ministries/Departments. The ACP Scheme needs to be viewed as a ‘Safety Net’ to deal with the problem of genuine stagnation and hardship faced by the employees due to lack of adequate promotional avenues. Accordingly, after careful consideration it has been decided by the Government to introduce the ACP Scheme recommended by the Fifth Central Pay Commission. This was done on August 9, 1999 vide No.35034/1/97-Estt(D) Government of India Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training).

 While in respect of POSTS IN GROUP ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ AND ‘D’ CATEGORIES  promotion shall continue to be duly earned, it is proposed to adopt the ACP Scheme in a modified form to mitigate hardship in cases of acute stagnation either in a cadre or in an isolated post. Keeping in view all relevant factors, it has, therefore, been decided to grant two financial upgradations [as recommended by the Fifth Central Pay Commission and also in accordance with the Agreed Settlement dated September 11, 1997 (in relation to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees) entered into with the Staff Side of the National Council (JCM)] under the ACP Scheme to Group ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees on completion of 12 years and 24 years (subject to certain conditions) of regular service respectively. Isolated posts in Group ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories which have no promotional avenues shall also qualify for similar benefits on the pattern indicated above. Certain categories of employees such as casual employees (including those with temporary status), ad-hoc and contract employees shall not qualify for benefits under the aforesaid Scheme. Grant of financial upgradations under the ACP Scheme shall, however, be subject to the following conditions

1. The ACP Scheme envisages merely placement in the higher pay-scale/grant of financial benefits (through financial upgradation) only to the Government servant concerned on personal basis and shall, therefore, neither amount to functional/regular promotion nor would require creation of new posts for the purpose;

2. The highest pay-scale upto which the financial upgradation under the Scheme shall be available will be Rs.14,300-18,300. Beyond this level, there shall be no financial upgradation and higher posts shall be filled strictly on vacancy based promotions;

3. The financial benefits under the ACP Scheme shall be granted from the date of completion of the eligibility period prescribed under the ACP Scheme or from the date of issue of these instructions whichever is later;

4. The first financial upgradation under the ACP Scheme shall be allowed after 12 years of regular service and the second upgradation after 12 years of regular service from the date of the first financial upgradation subject to fulfillment of prescribed conditions. In other words, if the first upgradation gets postponed on account of the employee not found fit or due to departmental proceedings, etc this would have consequential effect on the second upgradation which would also get deferred accordingly;

5.1 Two financial upgradations under the ACP Scheme in the entire Government service career of an employee shall be counted against regular promotions (including in-situ promotion and fast-track promotion availed through limited departmental competitive examination) availed from the grade in which an employee was appointed as a direct recruit. This shall mean that two financial upgradations under the ACP Scheme shall be available only if no regular promotions during the prescribed periods (12 and 24 years) have been availed by an employee. If an employee has already got one regular promotion, he shall qualify for the second financial upgradation only on completion of 24 years of regular service under the ACP Scheme. In case two prior promotions on regular basis have already been received by an employee, no benefit under the ACP Scheme shall accrue to him;

5.2 Residency periods (regular service) for grant of benefits under the ACP Scheme shall be counted from the grade in which an employee was appointed as a direct recruit;

6. Fulfillment of normal promotion norms (bench-mark, departmental examination, seniority-cum-fitness in the case of Group ‘D’ employees, etc.) for grant of financial upgradations, performance of such duties as are entrusted to the employees together with retention of old designations, financial upgradations as personal to the incumbent for the stated purposes and restriction of the ACP Scheme for financial and certain other benefits (House Building Advance, allotment of Government accommodation, advances, etc) only without conferring any privileges related to higher status (e.g. invitation to ceremonial functions, deputation to higher posts, etc) shall be ensured for grant of benefits under the ACP Scheme;

7. Financial upgradation under the Scheme shall be given to the next higher grade in accordance with the existing hierarchy in a cadre/category of posts without creating new posts for the purpose. However, in case of isolated posts, in the absence of defined hierarchical grades, financial upgradation shall be given by the Ministries/Departments concerned in the immediately next higher (standard/common) pay-scales as indicated in Annexure-II which is in keeping with Part-A of the First Schedule annexed to the Notification dated September 30, 1997 of the Ministry of Finance (Department of Expenditure). For instance, incumbents of isolated posts in the pay-scale S-4, as indicated in Annexure-II, will be eligible for the proposed two financial upgradations only to the pay-scales S-5 and S-6. Financial upgradation on a dynamic basis (i.e. without having to create posts in the relevant scales of pay) has been recommended by the Fifth Central Pay Commission only for the incumbents of isolated posts which have no avenues of promotion at all. Since financial upgradations under the Scheme shall be personal to the incumbent of the isolated post, the same shall be filled at its original level (pay-scale) when vacated. Posts which are part of a well-defined cadre shall not qualify for the ACP Scheme on ‘dynamic’ basis. The ACP benefits in their case shall be granted conforming to the existing hierarchical structure only;

8. The financial upgradation under the ACP Scheme shall be purely personal to the employee and shall have no relevance to his seniority position. As such, there shall be no additional financial upgradation for the senior employee on the ground that the junior employee in the grade has got higher pay-scale under the ACP Scheme;

9. On upgradation under the ACP Scheme, pay of an employee shall be fixed under the provisions of FR 22(I) a(1) subject to a minimum financial benefit of Rs.100/- as per the Department of Personnel and Training Office Memorandum No.1/6/97-Pay.I dated July 5, 1999. The financial benefit allowed under the ACP Scheme shall be final and no pay-fixation benefit shall accrue at the time of regular promotion i.e. posting against a functional post in the higher grade;

10. Grant of higher pay-scale under the ACP Scheme shall be conditional to the fact that an employee, while accepting the said benefit, shall be deemed to have given his unqualified acceptance for regular promotion on occurrence of vacancy subsequently. In case he refuses to accept the higher post on regular promotion subsequently, he shall be subject to normal debarment for regular promotion as prescribed in the general instructions in this regard. However, as and when he accepts regular promotion thereafter, he shall become eligible for the second upgradation under the ACP Scheme only after he completes the required eligibility service/period under the ACP Scheme in that higher grade subject to the condition that the period for which he was debarred for regular promotion shall not count for the purpose. For example, if a person has got one financial upgradation after rendering 12 years of regular service and after 2 years therefrom if he refuses regular promotion and is consequently debarred for one year and subsequently he is promoted to the higher grade on regular basis after completion of 15 years (12+2+1) of regular service, he shall be eligible for consideration for the second upgradation under the ACP Scheme only after rendering ten more years in addition to two years of service already rendered by him after the first financial upgradation (2+10) in that higher grade i.e. after 25 years (12+2+1+10) of regular service because the debarment period of one year cannot be taken into account towards the required 12 years of regular service in that higher grade;

11. In the matter of disciplinary/penalty proceedings, grant of benefits under the ACP Scheme shall be subject to rules governing normal promotion. Such cases shall, therefore, be regulated under the provisions of relevant CCS(CCA) Rules, 1965 and instructions thereunder;

12. The proposed ACP Scheme contemplates merely placement on personal basis in the higher pay-scale/grant of financial benefits only and shall not amount to actual/functional promotion of the employees concerned. Since orders regarding reservation in promotion are applicable only in the case of regular promotion, reservation orders/roster shall not apply to the ACP Scheme which shall extend its benefits uniformly to all eligible SC/ST employees also. However, at the time of regular/functional (actual) promotion, the Cadre Controlling Authorities shall ensure that all reservation orders are applied strictly;

13. Existing time-bound promotion schemes, including in-situ promotion scheme, in various Ministries/Departments may, as per choice, continue to be operational for the concerned categories of employees. However, these schemes, shall not run concurrently with the ACP Scheme. The Administrative Ministry/Department -- not the employees -- shall have the option in the matter to choose between the two schemes, i.e. existing time-bound promotion scheme or the ACP Scheme, for various categories of employees. However, in case of switch-over from the existing time-bound promotion scheme to the ACP Scheme, all stipulations (viz. for promotion, redistribution of posts, upgradation involving higher functional duties, etc) made under the former (existing) scheme would cease to be operative. The ACP Scheme shall have to be adopted in its totality;

14. In case of an employee declared surplus in his/her organisation and in case of transfers including unilateral transfer on request, the regular service rendered by him/her in the previous organisation shall be counted along with his/her regular service in his/her new organisation for the purpose of giving financial upgradation under the Scheme; and

15. Subject to Condition No. 4 above, in cases where the employees have already completed 24 years of regular service, with or without a promotion, the second financial upgradation under the scheme shall be granted directly. Further, in order to rationalise unequal level of stagnation, benefit of surplus regular service (not taken into account for the first upgradation under the scheme) shall be given at the subsequent stage (second) of financial upgradation under the ACP Scheme as a one time measure. In other words, in respect of employees who have already rendered more than 12 years but less than 24 years of regular service, while the first financial upgradation shall be granted immediately, the surplus regular service beyond the first 12 years shall also be counted towards the next 12 years of regular service required for grant of the second financial upgradation and, consequently, they shall be considered for the second financial upgradation also as and when they complete 24 years of regular service without waiting for completion of 12 more years of regular service after the first financial upgradation already granted under the Scheme.

ACP in Department of Telecommunications subseuently converted to BSNL

As per G.I., Dept. Of Telecom, DTS No. 4-1/99-PAT dated 24-11-1999 ther ACP scheme was decided to be implemented in Department of Telecommunications, India in respect of those Group 'C' and 'D' cadres/posts which are not covered by One Time Bound Promotion (OTBP) Scheme notified under 1-71/63-NCG dated 17-12-1982 and the Biennial Cadre Review (BCR) scheme notified vide 27-4/87-TE II dated 16-10-1990 of the Department.

It had also been decided that in respect of JTO/SDE Telecom, which is covered by time-bound promotion scheme wherein the the eligible officer is placed in the next higher grade after 12 years of service, the existing scheme shall continue and therefore ACP shall not be made applicable to them.

DoT did not implement the ACP scheme for JTO/SDE Telecom but it was implemented for JE/AE Civil and Electrical wings, which are the equivalent of the JTO/SDE cadre in the Telecom wing.
Consequently a large number directly recruited Engineering Supervisors ( since re-designated as Junior Telecom Officers or JTO ) did not get their 2nd financial upgradation after 24 years of service. Most of these JTOs belonging to to the 1971,1972 and 1973 recruitment year could get their 2nd financial upgradation in the Sr. SDE scale only in the year 2003 by which time they had already put in nearly 28 years of service.

Some of the aggrieved officials, who are all now DEs,  have gone to the court and two such cases are pending before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chennai  and their case numbers are



After initial hearings the case is adjourned to 2nd week of April and the exact date will be known later.


The Hon’ble CAT, Chennai pronouncing it judgment dated 01-08-2012 in TA 11/2010 and TA 12/2010 , has directed the respondents DoT, BSNL and CGMs of BSNL, Chennai Telephones / STR /STP  to extend the benefit of the ACP Scheme to the applicants and grant the benefit of ACP as extended to similar placed employees of JTO (Civil) and JTO(Electrical) Wing .