Annual Confidential Report (ACR)

I think it was the year 1987.  Junior colleagues from my batch were promoted to the IPS over me.  During my service I had never been given an adverse appraisal, atleast I had never been sent a notice saying so.  While I was wondering why I had not been given my due promotion into the IPS, the department sent me my Annual Confidential Report for the 1987-88.  Some of the remarks it contained were as follows: -

“Fair in industry and application.  Average in intelligence.  Average in initiative and drive.  His performance in intelligence field was of middling grade, not because of any lack of effort on his part but because of his inherent limitations in making perspective studies which the job demanded.  An average officer.  Has put in a routine performance.”

I was flabbergasted.  These remarks were for the period when I was working for the CID Special Intelligence branch, a post which people aspire for to improve their record.  In my case the exact opposite had happened.

I met Vasant Saraf, the senior officer who had written these adverse remarks and showed him the report. “You mean these remarks were interpreted as adverse?”  He himself didn’t seem to know that the remarks he had written were adverse.  

“These adverse remarks have resulted in a great loss for me.  I have lost my promotion.  I am going applying to have these remarks purged from the ACR and I request you to help me with it sir.” He sent me off with the words, “Fine, I’ll see what to do”. I submitted my reply to the adverse report.

In response to the first remark that I was ‘Fair in industry and application.  Average in intelligence’, I said that in the 1977 Maharashtra Public Service Commission examination through which I was recruited as a DySP, I stood second in the whole state!  I further wrote that my book on the Ram-Sham encounter had been published by a prestigious and highly respected Publisher like Granthali.  I had sent copies of my book to the famous writers Mr. P. L. Deshpande and Mr. Vijay Tendulkar and they had praised it.  I added photocopies of the favorable review that these renowned authors had written about my book to the report.  So it is totally unfair to say that I am ‘Fair in industry and application.  Average in intelligence’.

In response to the second adverse remark that I was ‘Average in initiative and drive.  An average officer.  Has put in a routine performance’,  I wrote that I undertook the dangerous work of nabbing dacoits that were wanted for 22 years.  The dacoits were notorious for their reign of terror in several districts and were known to be armed with foreign made arms and inspite of knowing all this before hand I raided their hideout.

Even in an injured state I fired back and killed the dacoits.  One of the bullets hit me in the chest.  I had a daughter of 2 ½ years and a son of 3 months.  I was 30 years old when I risked my life.  I was not going to get anything by taking this risk - I was doing it for the poor adivasis who bore the brunt of the dacoits oppression.  An officer would never have taken initiative for such a risky proposition, especially when all officers for the preceding 22 years had failed miserably at the same job.

What was the effect of my report?  Were the adverse remarks expunged?  No.  Instead the government was sent a remark saying, “I do not accept the officer’s explanation and stand by my remarks.”  The DGP has to countersign the ACR before it becomes official.  The then DGP Suryakant Jog remarked, “He is an average officer.  Has put in a routine performance”.  Moreover, in support of his original recommendations he said, “I had called Khopade over for discussion during the period for which the ACR has been written and found that his practical knowledge and overall work is of an average caliber.  Hence I stand by my earlier recommendations.”  I have nothing to say about the adverse evaluation, but his statement, “during discussion I found that his practical knowledge and overall work is of an average caliber” felt like a below the belt punch.

For the simple reason that, during that period this Director General had never even spoken to me on the phone (forget in person!) about official or other matters!  To what lengths a senior bureaucrat is ready to go just to cover up his mistaken, prejudiced, rigid and wrong statements is something I experienced first hand.  I couldn’t believe that the DGP could write such stark lies!  He was probably annoyed with me for having appealed for the Medal.  He had denied me the Medal saying  that “Medal cannot be demanded as a matter of right” as if I were begging him for the Medal. 

Instead of sending a new recommendation to the Central Government so I could get my due, the DGP instead ruined my career with and adverse ACR.  At first I couldn’t understand why the DGP and DIG had acted so maliciously.  Then I realised that when MLA Mr. Joshi, Mr. Tupe and Mr. Jadhavrao had put the question to the Assembly, the DGP had had to face the music.  ‘So, Khopade is challenging our supremacy through MLAs?  Forget the Medal we’ll make sure you won’t get any further promotions either!’  What could a person like me from a poor rural background do in the face of such powerful bureaucrats?