1. This writ petition is directed against order dated 7.4.21 passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Jaipur Bench, Jaipur, whereby the original application preferred by the petitioner herein assailing the order dated 26.9.16 issued by the Superintendent of Post Office, Sawai Madhopur, retiring him on completion of 30 years of service, issued in public interest under clause 1(b) of Rule 48 of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 (for short “Rules of 1972”), has been dismissed.
2. The facts relevant are that the petitioner was initially appointed to the post of Postal Assistant in Department of Post & Telegraph, Government of India on 15.6.83. His services were regularised on 4.10.86 and on completion of 16 years of service, he was granted higher pay scale w.e.f. 1.11.02. Later, vide order dated 26.8.11, the petitioner was granted the benefits of II MACP in the grade pay of Rs.4200. On completion of 30 years of service, the petitioner was retired in public interest under clause 1(b) of Rule 48 of the Rules of 1972 vide order dated 26.9.90 issued by the Superintendent of Post Office, Sawai Madhopur Division, Sawai Madhopur. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner preferred original application before the CAT, which stands dismissed by the order impugned. Hence, this petition.
3. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that the applicant was born on 1.5.1962 and thus, he completed the age of 50 years in 2012 but had not completed 55 years of age as on the date of issuance of the order impugned. That apart, the petitioner having been appointed in the year 1983, he completed 30 years of service in 2013 but the respondents have wrongly reckoned his service from the year 1986 and considered his case in the year 2016 i.e. much after completion of 30 years of service. Learned counsel submitted that on completing 20 years of satisfactory service, the petitioner was extended the benefits of II MACP w.e.f. 1.9.2008 and earlier also he was extended benefits under Time Bound One Promotion Scheme w.e.f. 1.12.2002 vide order dated 11.11.2002. Learned counsel submitted that the minor penalties imposed upon the petitioner pursuant to the disciplinary proceedings could not have been made basis for retiring the petitioner prematurely in the public interest. Learned counsel submitted that even the CAT has observed that there were some good ACRs to the credit of the petitioner wherein his services as honest and hard working official were commended and thus, the CAT has seriously erred in declining to interfere with the order impugned.
4. We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel for the petitioner and perused the material on record.
5. As per clause 1(b) of Rule 48 of the Rules of 1972, at any time after a Government servant has completed 30 years qualifying service, he may be required by the Appointing Authority to retire in public interest. It is not in dispute that before passing the order impugned, the petitioner had completed 30 years of service. From perusal of the provision, in no manner, it could be inferred that the case of the Government servant for premature retirement in terms of clause 1(b) of Rule 48 has to be considered immediately on completion of 30 years rather, he may be retired in public interest at any time after completion of 30 years and thus, nothing turns on the question that the petitioner was retired in the year 2016 whereas, he had completed 30 years of service in 2013.
6. Apparently, the object of premature retirement in public interest in terms of clause 1(b) of Rule 48 is to weed out the dead wood in order to maintain efficiency of service. It is well settled that while invoking the power of compulsory retirement in public interest on the completion of requisite number of service or attaining the age specified, needs to be exercised by the employer after examination of service record of an employee in its entirety. The order of compulsory retirement passed by the competent authority on the ground of public interest does not entail any penal consequences inasmuch as it does not deprive an employee any of his earned benefits and therefore, such order passed on the subjective satisfaction by the employer generally, cannot be interfered with by the Court. The Court while exercising the power of judicial review in the matter of compulsory retirement cannot sit in judgment over the same as appellate authority. Reliance in this regard may be placed on a decision of the Supreme Court in Ram Murti Yadav Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr : (2020) 1 SCC 801. But then, if the order is stigmatic, founded on misconduct and appears to have been passed so as to circumvent the procedure of disciplinary proceeding, the same cannot be sustained.
7. That apart, it is also well settled that the form of the order of compulsory retirement is not conclusive, it is open for the court to go to the substance of the order by lifting the veil and examine the real nature of the order. For the purpose of ascertaining the real nature of the order, the court can even go behind the order.
8. In the backdrop of the position of law discussed above, adverting to the facts of the present case, it is noticed that in the service career on the charges of misconduct being proved, nine penalties were imposed upon the petitioner during the period from 17.11.2004 to 3.5.2016. That apart, in the APARs of preceding five years i.e. 2011-12 to 2015-16, there are adverse entries recorded regarding his performance of the duties in not achieving the target, habitual in late attending the office, lack of good behaviour and use of imperilment language with the customer. The penalties imposed and the adverse entries taken into consideration by the competent authority while retiring the petitioner from service in public interest were recent and not stale. There is not
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hing on record suggesting that the order compulsorily retiring the petitioner is stigmatic or actuated by malice. 9. For the aforementioned reasons, in the considered opinion of this Court, taking into consideration the entire service record, including the penalties imposed and the adverse entries in APARs, the order passed by the respondent-employer retiring the petitioner in public interest, cannot be faulted with. 10. No case for interference by us in exercise of extra ordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is made out. 11. The writ petition is therefore, dismissed in limine.