High Court Directs Premature Retirement Cannot Be Challenged If Done In Public Interest And With Proper Assessment Of Employee’s last 10 years’ Service.

INTRODUCTION

The Punjab and Haryana High Court in its decision dated 17.09.2020 stated that a premature compulsory retirement is within the statutory guidelines of the state in order to regulate efficiency in work regime and terminate the services of employees either if they have attained  age of 55 years or have completed their 20 years of service. The hearing took place through video conferencing with the bench consisting Justice Daya Chaudhary and Justice Meenakshi Mehta.

The appellant filed the Letters Patent Appeal to challenge order dated 28.07.2020 passed by learned Single Judge of the Court whereby his appeal was dismissed, as he was retired prematurely at the age of 55.

Key Highlights

  • Case name: Hawa Singh Bhambhu v. State of Haryana and another.
  • This was LPA No.593 of 2020.
  • Mr. V.K. Jindal, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Akshay Jindal representing the appellant and Mr. Deepak Balyan, Addl. AG, Haryana representing the respondents.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that as per the State regulations it is completely lawful to terminate the services of employee, as in to retire the employee in two conditions-

  • If the employee has completed 20 years of service;
  • If the employee has attained the age of 55 years.

Court observed that the statutory guidelines framed by State permitting premature retirement aims at providing clean administration, attaining efficiency, strengthening administrative machinery at all levels and weeding out deadwood where integrity was doubtful.

Moreover, the Court pointed out a precedent wherein the set proposition of law in order to ascertain the premature retirement is justified or not, the competent authority need to access the capacity of the employee prematurely, if the employee is no more fit and capable to carry the service in hand efficiently then premature retirement will be completely valid and justified under the regulations.

However, while hearing the appeal the bench held a contrary view and emphasized on the objective test required to validate and justify the premature retirement rather than the set of conditions expressly stated under the regulations. In the present case, the appellant, Tehsildar had good conduct during the course of his employment and evidently there is no such record reflecting any such conduct which favors his premature retirement and thus appeal was allowed.

The Court held that though premature retirement is permissible under the State regulations, however one cannot execute the same without proper assessment and application of mind by the competent authority and the same should be in the interest of the public and justified by the following precedents- Union of India v. ME Reddy and another and Balikuntha Nath Dass and another v. Chief District Medical Officer, Mayurbhanj.

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