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Delhi HC: ‘Compulsory Retirement’ is not stigmatic

Delhi HC: ‘Compulsory Retirement’ is not stigmatic
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Delhi High Court on 4th September said the order of compulsory retirement is not stigmatic and it will not come in the way of future employment.

The Bench of Justices GS Sistani and Anup J Bhambhani in Jitendra Kumar Ojha v UOI, refused an interim stay in the order directing Jitendra to vacate his government house, saying people who retire also survive and holding on to the government residential house is not the only way of survival.

Jitendra is a former Officer in Research & Analysis Service (RAS) of the Govt of India, challenging the Order passed by Central Administrative Tribunal on 15/02/2019, whereby his application against the Order of retirement from service upon attaining the age of 50 years, has been dismissed by the CAT.

The RAS officer wanted to have a respectful and graceful exit from the organisation before superannuation. He also addressed certain letters to the concerned secretary in this behalf. He contends that he was dissuaded by his superiors from taking VRS and in fact persuaded to accept an assignment in National Defence College and that he completed the same. Even as recently as on 16/01/2018 he is said to have met the secretary and renewed his request to permit him to go on VRS.

Cabinet Secretary issued an order dated 17/01/2018 retiring the applicant from service, in exercise of powers under Clause (j) of Rule 56 of Fundamental Rules on his attaining 50 years of age. It was mentioned in the Order that he would be qualify for the pension and that sum equivalent to three months of pay and allowances shall be paid to him.

Jitendra has argued that despit having on record a brilliant career, the order of compulsory retirement came almost as a punitive measure and the same was unreasonable and mala fide in nature.

Government counsel before the CAT had argued that the decision was taken in accordance with the Office Memorandum dated 11 Sep 2019 issued by the Department of Personnel & Training and no illegality has crept in the Proceedings.

Central Administrative Tribunal noted in its Order that duties those were discharged by the applicant in the RAS are of typical and complicated nature. The record discloses that at various point of time his work was appreciated by the authorities at different levels. However, by its very nature the service of an officer in RAS has its own graph. The ups and downs occur more on account of the satisfaction or otherwise of the officer himself than due to any external factors. CAT noted that in year 2012 the applicant himself did not feel like continuing in the organisation following which he wrote letters to secretary for the same. He had also approached the Special Secretary citing his unstable health, irregular blood sugar, intestinal and kidney health issues and requested for long leave before putting in his papers for VRS.

CAT in its order had noted, “Whatever may be the desirability or otherwise of continuing an officer even after he expressed his desire to move out, it is not at all advisable to ignore such developments in an organisation like RAS. Not only the full dedication to serve but also complete inclination to work is needed. Even the slightest of disinclination to work in the organisation is prone to be detrimental to the Nation.”

“We are of the view that no prejudice can be said to have been caused to the applicant and that the impugned Order does not suffer from factual or legal infirmity. To allay the fear of the applicant that it may be treated as the one expressing lack of confidence in him or pointing out absence of integrity, we make it clear that the Order shall not be construed as reflecting the lack of integrity of efficiency on the part of the applicant”, CAT had said while dismissing the application of the Officer.

High Court will next hear the matter on 20th November 2019, while clarifying the government is at liberty to pursue revocation of the residential house of Jitendra Kumar Ojha.

–India Legal Bureau

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