But in government department promotion is totally depend on you seniority. Some reservation is also apply. The persons who belongs to SC or ST get their promotion earlier but the persons who belong to general category get promotion after 1-12 years.
Recommendation of higher authorities does not play any role in promotion but it plays an important role in transferring . By recommendation you can get a place of your choice.
Honesty is the best policy.
At the other hand in Govt or Public Sector it is based on annual appraisal reports and sometimes departmental interviews. Additionally seniority also plays a part.
Apart from above general guidelines there is a unwritten guideline also that is good relation and links with higher ups. Sometimes people at higher level can indirectly favour you with verbal recommendations and the management can pick you up out of many candidates having similar experience and abilities as you have. Even sending for a foreign assignment is on a pick and choose basis.
The HR department generally coordinates these activities and they present all the data about the employees to the management for administrative decisions. So their importance in the process can not be ignored.
In nutshell, the importance of good relations and linkage with top bosses can sometimes be instrumental in ones career growth whether it is a private or Govt organization.
Knowledge is power.