The “assured career progression scheme”, likewise known as “ACP Rules” is a scheme both for Union Government Employees as well as State Government Employees. This scheme was brought under consideration by the government (Union/State) because of the stagnation faced by the government employees in their service tenure. The government employees were facing stagnation in their pay and allowances provided by the government for their services.
HIGHER STANDARD PAY SCALES
In the year 1994, the Haryana Government introduced a scheme “Higher Standard Pay Scale” by which Group C and D employees were granted a higher pay scale. Following the initiation of the “Higher Standard Pay Scale (HSS)” the state government replaced the scheme of additional increments provided to government employees for 8 and 18 years of service. With the implementation of HSS, the state government provided the employees with a time-bound higher pay scale.
Considering the needs of the government employees and to remove the stagnation faced by the government employee, in the year 1998, the governor of Haryana vide its powers conferred under article 309 of the Indian Constitution made rules, vide government notification dated 7.1.98 and introduced “Haryana Civil Services (Assured Career Progression) Rules 1998” likewise known as “A.C.P. Rules- 1998” and implemented it with effect from 01-01-1996.
Upon the launch of this scheme, the state government endeavoured to provide relief not only to group C and D employees but also the group A and B employees. With the introduction of these rules, the state government assured the government employee that government employees will get at least 2 financial upgrades in the prescribed length of their service for the post. Some government employees who are not covered under the umbrella of these rules are:
- “Officers of Judiciary”
- “Persons not in whole-time employment”
- “Persons paid out of contingencies”
- “Persons paid otherwise than on a monthly basis”
As per these rules, the government employee will be eligible for at least 2 financial upgrades, provided he fulfils the eligibility criteria for the ACP scales.
Basically, as per Rule 5, if a government employee, after rendering ten years of “regular satisfactory service” has, under any circumstances, not received financial upgradation concerning the scale on 31-12-1995, will become entitled to the first ACP scale.
And if, a government employee, after rendering twenty years of “regular satisfactory service” has, under any circumstances, received no more than one financial upgradation concerning the scale on 31-12-1995, will become entitled to a second ACP scale.
Though the government, acting and conducting itself as a welfare institution for the government employees, has set into motion various schemes for the upliftment of the government employees by trying to alleviate the sluggishness felt by the employees in their service period through various schemes, the implementation of the scheme is another issue in itself. Rolling out of beneficial schemes without proper implementation will provide no fruits.
For instance, the government, as well as employees, came across a situation wherein the issue that arose was related to stepping up the pay of a senior employee receiving less pay than his junior because of the promotion of the junior from Group D to Group C posts and revision of Pay Scales. Suraj Bhan And Others vs State Of Haryana And Another , in this case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dealt with a similar issue and granted the benefit of stepping up to the senior employees.
Rolling out of new schemes attracts new problems as well, due to which the schemes indeed require cautious and proper implementation.
Then in the year 2008, vide notification dated 30/12/2008 the state government introduced “Haryana civil services (assured career progression) rules, 2008”.
New development in the existing rules came into effect with the introduction of these rules.
With the introduction of these rules, the state government provided 2 categories of “assured career progression schemes”, i.e.:
- “Cadre specific”
The first type of scheme talks about assured career progression for some “cadres/posts” prescribing “time scale”;
The second type of scheme provides career progression in a general form.
The second type of assured career progression scheme looks for ensuring that all government employees, whose cadres do not fall under the benefit of “cadre assured career progression”, at least get “three financial upgradations”. The gist of this scheme is that no government employee shall face stagnation for more than 10 years.
While “Rule 6” of these rules provides eligibility criteria for cadre-specific ACP, “rule 7” seeks to deliver benefits in form of a “general ACP scheme” and set out the eligibility criteria for the same. A government employee, considering this rule, will be entitled to First ACP grade pay if the employee has completed ten years of “regular satisfactory service” and, under any circumstances, has not got any financial upgradation concerning his “functional pay structure” of the post.
A government employee will qualify for second ACP grade pay if he has completed 20 years of “regular satisfactory service” and, under any circumstances, has received no more than one financial upgradation.
A government employee will qualify for third ACP grade pay if he has completed 30 years of “regular satisfactory service” and has received no more than two financial upgrades.
In Ram Avtar Sharma’s case, the Delhi High Court came across a matter in which the petitioner was not given ACP because of not qualifyingfor the PPC (pre-promotional courses) which was a default attributable to the department concerned.
In this case, the court observed and held “it is made clear to the officer present in the Court on behalf of the respondents that if in future any such petitions are filed agitating relief akin to any of the reliefs granted or issues covered in the aforesaid cases, as disposed off by this Court, the responsibility of the officer concerned shall be fixed and such conduct, lapse, recalcitrance and non-cooperation will be construed as contempt of this Court”.
The court’s observation demonstrated that the government is in default and that its implementation of the policies has been careless.
The government of Haryana vide notification dated 04.03.2014 modified the scheme of 2008 and the general ACP provided for 10, 20, and 30 years of regular satisfactory service was modified to 8, 16 and 24 years of regular satisfactory service. This modification was only for General ACP. This scheme was made effective from the issuance of this notification i.e. 04.03.2014. With the implementation of this scheme, grade pay was also modified.
In the year 2016 Haryana government vide notification dated 28.10.2016 revised the ACP Rules 2008 and these rules are called “Haryana civil services (assured career progression) Rules, 2016.” These rules were made effective from 1.1.2016.
With the implementation of these rules, a new development that came into existence is that the provision of ACP grade pay scale which was earlier provided to the government employee at 10, 20, and 30 years of service is now replaced with 8 years, 16years, and 24years of “regular satisfactory service”.
Keeping in mind the problems of delay in grant of beneficial schemes to the employees and increasing litigation due to delay, the government of Haryana made had developed a portal Human Resource Management System and made it effective from 01.08.2022. This step taken by the government may provide relief to the employees because manual fixation has become very complex as well as technical due to time and again revision. Taking the help of technology may help in the fast and efficient disposal of the benefits and cases.
In the case of Lucknow Development Authority vs M.K. Gupta the honorable court has stated:
“An ordinary citizen or a common man is hardly equipped to match the might of the State or its instrumentalities”
All the schemes discussed above were introduced by the state government considering the needs of the government employees of Haryana. The employees were facing stagnation in their service and pay and allowances. For granting relief to the employees these schemes were introduced. The essence of these schemes is that with the increasing age of the employee, needs also increase, and to satisfy these needs more money is required. Though, the government in rolling out new beneficial schemes for the employees since its inception, its implementation cautiously and properly is still a problem that is to be resolved. The new developments and revisions of the scheme had made it a tough job as various technical points are to be kept in mind while dealing with these schemes. Rolling out new schemes without their proper implementation is of no fruit. Thus, the role of the judicial mind has become pivotal.
“Implementation of promises is as important as making them”
Author(s) Name: Aseem Bhakher (Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh)